Fifteen of these flower-shaped solar panels were installed last month in an open space between a highway and a retail lot in Austin, Texas. They not only provide a green source of energy, but also bring a fresh look to solar panel design. Unfortunately, I can't help but think of those fake-tree cellphone towers when I see these things.
Designed by Massachusetts art duo Harries/Heder, the SunFlowers are an art exhibit at heart, and stand over 30 feet tall. They collect power from the sun by day, and use that energy to power their blue LEDs at night. Up to 15 kilowatts of surplus power is sent back to the grid as payment for any maintenance fees the SunFlowers incur.
why waiste the energy on the lights?
Great point extremechiton, but using LED light technology especially with a blue hue probably uses and extremely small amount of energy. Regardless, I'm in full agreeance, use the energy more wisely.
Not to get too picky, but it's not 15 kw. Electric energy is measured in kilowatt hours ( check your electric bill).
Using just kw is fairly uninformative.
i kno they should use the energy wiser but it keeps it from being an eye soar. theyll be accepted more if they look better
Great idea, but may be a little expensive. In the Netherlands are plans for a compleet forest with solar-trees: http://bit.ly/168Z0i
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There are probably many more things they could do to increase the efficiency of these "flowers", but the article says that they are meant to be an art exhibit...not a power-generating facility. They only create enough power to sustain themselves. Not everything in the world has to be practicle to be worth doing. I think they look nice.
I actually live right down the road from these. At first I thought they were just solar panels, but now I know that they're art. Never thought something like this would make it on popsci.
I suppose the 30' towers are used for aesthetic and security reasons but I have a feeling that an equal number of square feet of solar cells behind a chain-link fence would be cheaper and just as effective.
I have seen the "Fake Tree" cell phone towers in Massachusetts (I think by the same firm). They look horrible. They have been given the nickname "Frankentrees". They are to real trees as Dr. Frankenstein's monster is to real humans. I hope the "sunflowers" are a big improvement aesthetically. But what about usefullness?
The Light Blossoms, a Phillips product, seem to do the same thing only better, more efficiently and better aesthetics. While it's nice to see something 'green', why not do it right?
ford2go, they probably mean kilowatt hours per hour, so didn't think it was neccesary. But since this only works in daylight, quting kilowatt hours per day would be more appropriate.
I can just see the conspiracy theorists lining up to claim that these Solar SunFlower arrays are actually weapons.
Nom, I laughed out loud at your comment "these SunFlorwer arrays are actually weapons."
There is a large potential truth to such a claim; just get out your 10X magnifying glass, take it out on a nice summer day, and focus the ray on your skin for, oh, say, 20 minutes.
But so what? A tightly-rolled newspaper can be a deadly weapon. So -- ban newspapers???
Someone commented these towers support only their own power needs, but the article says they produce excess that's sold back to the grid. It also says that's to cover costs, but the article doesn't make clear if there's a surplus after those costs are covered. If there is, then the things are productive beyond just themselves.
To those who still think this stuff is a waste of time, I can observe only that I surmise you think greenhouses ought to be outlawed as a waste, too.
I actually live a couple blocks away from where these "Flowers" are. They are pleasant, but they do not seem practical. As an art exhibit they work, they are an example of "green" industrial art, but as a means of generating electricity they are ludicrous.
I do think its funny that in the image gallery they mention:
"The SunFlowers can also provide a spot for pedestrians to cool their heels and escape the sun for a short while." This I have yet to see. They are between an interstate and a Best Buy. There are no pedestrians that walk along interstates, and they are also on the opposite side of where the entrance is to the Best Buy.