Solar SunFlowers Look Like Reincarnated Cell Tower Trees

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.

Green Spaces

15 of these SunFlowers occupy 1000 feet of space between the Interstate 35 Highway and Austin's mixed use Mueller Development.David Newsome/HarriesHeder

Solar SunFlowers Rise Up

At night, the SunFlowers take the energy collected from the sun and use it to power their blue LEDs, providing attractive visuals in darkness.David Newsome/HarriesHeder

Giving Back To The Grid

Any remaining power not used by the SunFlower LEDs is fed back into the grid. That could total as much as 15 kilowatts a day. [Source]David Newsome/GOOD Magazine

Green(thumb) Design

The SunFlower design consists of a septagonal-shaped face made of up seven separate panels ready to soak up a few rays.David Newsome/HarriesHeder

SETI Approved?

The SunFlower design also happens to make them look like they're listening for extraterrestrial signals in deep space. [Source]David Newsome

Public Destination

The SunFlowers can also provide a spot for pedestrians to cool their heels and escape the sun for a short while.David Newsome/HarriesHeder

Concept Sketches

The original idea for the SunFlower exhibit, seen here, seemed to include twice as many of the solar panels.David Newsome/HarriesHeder