If you’ve been to a major solar trade show recently, you’ve likely come across and stopped to check out the SmartFlower, an intriguing and integrated solar photovoltaic system from an Austrian manufacturer. And now it appears the SunFlower is gaining U.S. customers, with Lavender Pond Farm, New England’s largest lavender farm, laying claim to the first Connecticut installation of the system at its Killingworth location.
Inspired by sunflowers and other phototropic plants that follow the sun across the horizon, the SmartFlower wakes up at sunrise, fans out its 12 solar “petals” to 194 square feet and automatically cleans itself in preparation for capturing the sun’s rays. SmartFlower then turns to face the sun at a 90-degree angle and follows the sun throughout the day using dual-axis tracking to maximize solar energy yield. At night, the system automatically folds itself up for compact storage, then starts the cycle over the next morning. One SmartFlower produces the equivalent of a 4 kW rooftop system.
“We are thrilled to deploy the SmartFlower,” says Denise Salafia, owner of Lavender Pond Farm. “It not only represents a long-term cost savings for our farm, but the stunning aesthetics of the SmartFlower are fully in line with our goal to try and make Lavender Pond Farm a more beautiful place.”
The purchase of the SmartFlower was funded, in part, by a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Rural Energy for America (REAP) Renewable Energy System grant.
“This procurement and deployment of the SmartFlower represented a total team effort,” continues Salafia. “Without the support of our local USDA Rural Development Office and the team at the Connecticut Farm Energy Program, this project would not have been possible. Then to have the professionals from Auer Builders and All Green It Solar at our farm to do the site work and deploy the system was just a great experience from beginning to end.”