It is time now for the University of Northern Colorado to incline towards the solar-way! A so-called “solar flower” has just been installed on the internal premises of the magnificent college. Last month, on June 28th, one of the prestigious colleges of the United States set forth its benchmark towards sustainable energy through this profitable initiative. The ‘go green go solar’ campaign has gone so viral that it did not spare even this baccalaureate and specialized graduate research university. The educational hub that strives to instill an appreciation of the natural resources in their student’s mind, led the foundation of a 2,500 watts-powered device. UNC’s Cesar Chavez cultural center on the corner of 14th Avenue and 20th Street will now witness a reduction in its electricity bills and overall maintenance costs, respectively!
This “smart sunflower” imitates a normal sunflower and automatically folds out its circular array of solar-petals (panels) to entrap up to 2,500 watts of energy from the sunlight, per day. The amount is enough to energize a lions’ share of this educational institute. The machine-made architecture does fold-in and folds-out so beautifully during the daytime and evening, respectively. It is sensitive to weather alterations and encloses itself on grounds of any serious calamity. While being closed, the tiny particles (small brushes) washes away any dust particle from its interior, to prevent inefficiency. Perhaps, stepping on the footprints of sustainable energy is not new for any Colorado University now, names like – University of Arizona, Arizona State University, Rutgers University, Colorado state university and California state university have already been making headlines in this field since long. They're making a big difference in the society and environment with their contribution in global solar power growth and deployment. Now let us gain some more information about these “smart sunflowers”.
What are solar flower/ smart flowers?
“Smartflowers” or solar flowers are the latest, out of the box solar technology. A bit different from your traditional solar panels, this innovation adds scenic beauty to the zone of its installation. This flower made out of photovoltaic panels, acts as a “solar tracker”, to track the solar energy (with the help of a GPS tracker) by following the movement of sun. The first “smartflower” in America was installed in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood.The credit goes to its smart features - 18 M2 solar modular fans and dual-axle sun tracking (solar- axis tracker) that make it up to 40% more energy-efficient. The all-in-all solar energy system sprouting up across America stands as a benefaction of modern day science and technology. Capable of producing nearly 3,400 to 6,200 KWH of energy per year, the “smart flowers” are a lucrative inspiration that the makers took from a real-life sunflower. The solar-energy utilization power of a normal sunflower is much higher than any other plant. This attribute stood befitting for the innovative minds who wanted to augment their line of devices producing clean energy power. Just like a sunflower, this “smart flower” furls itself at night and again unfurls to the sunrays (depicting the suns’ movements) to maximize its effectiveness. The all-in-one flower power facilitates its users- electric vehicle compatibility, easy integration with external EV charging stations, GPS-tracking and internal cooling & cleaning mechanism.
How did the solar flower installation in the University of Northern Colorado take place?
The so called solar sunflowers are a great opportunity when it comes to educating students. Besides providing enlightenment to the interior of the campus (by its power of energy generation), it also enlightens the students’ minds through its highly informative lessons. Like the internal workings of the smart device, its features, how does the metal device gets installed and subsequent careers in the sustainable energy field. Looking at all these aspects, now we know why the top United States Universities are currently flourishing with these smart flowers within their campuses. Now coming to the Northern University of Colorado, the installation of a “smart flower” was done to: “reduce our campus’s carbon footprint by utilizing renewable energy and offsetting our fossil fuel emissions” – Morgan Scott (Student LEAF’s grant coordinator). The student LEAF stands for – student Leadership for Environmental Action Fund. This LEAF constituting entirely of students played the mastermind to this major solar evolution in the premises of the “Bicycle-friendly University”. Improvised accessibility (to Chavez center) and visibility for knowing about the solar project at hand, further reinforced the student’s envision. Ever since the installation took place, the Tree campus of USA has been witnessing a mass-crowd of visitants who pay daily visit to the new construction.
Some quick facts about the smart flower:
- Reduces your electricity bills
- Reduces your overall maintenance cost
- Provides educational knowledge to the students
- No space issues while being installed
- The installation process is much easier and faster
- Enhances the ambience and look of the place, where it is installed
- Has eight color-variants you can choose from
- Its portable- carry the smart system where you are travelling & re-install it
- The flower needs charging
- The flower has got internal cooling and cleaning mechanism
- Supports/considers – sustainable/green/renewable energy
- It is a ground-mounted solar panel system
- Comes with a 5-year warranty (for the self-cleaning & contained features) from its manufacturers
- 25 years warranty for its solar cells (up to industry standards)
- 10 years warranty for its inverter(up to industry standards)
- Increased production capabilities
How much do a smart flower/ solar flower cost?
Now this question shall be held as a very significant one. Honestly, the installation-procedure of a solar flower cannot be considered as a very close-fisted one! Indeed the expenses are higher as compared to your conventional rooftop solar panel or ground-mounted photovoltaics. Evidently, Smartflower buyers pay a price premium for the GPS tracking, self-cleaning, and self-cooling benefits over competing alternatives. But it’s definitely up to you whether you consider paying the price premium for the device’s smart features.
The cost per watt for a “Smart flower” is somewhere around 6.25 to 7.50 USD, at this moment. The median cost plummets to somewhere near 7.00 USD. The costs of installing a single Smart flower varies between 25,000 USD to 30,000 USD, the average cost lays approximately 27,000 USD. Considering the two main factors for the installation of the device are: 1. Space and 2. Electricity; there are several other factors determining the cost of your solar flower installation.
- Distance between the Smartflower and your building (home/university etc.)
- If the construction needs a concrete slab foundation
- If the installation needs an additional electrical framework
Indeed solar power at Colorado is speeding at a great pace, since the last decade. The Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (COSEIA) has got a big hand behind some of the major solar technologies that is thriving in this state now. Solar cars, solar farms, solar trees, solar flowers, solar toilet and what not! With the installation rising from a flat 11.5% in 2007 to a hoping 98 % in 2017. It is quite transparent that how much of a solar evolution this state has undergone over the last few years. The state affiliate, non-profit organization of COSEIA does its share by educating a number of residential and commercial solar installers. With more than 300 hundred sunny days per year, Colorado stands as one of the first states in the U.S. to have a Renewable Energy Standard. It also proudly entails the National Renewable energy laboratory and the golden field office. As of 2019, Colorado is the home to multiple successful solar programs. The number of solar installation peaking as high as 55, 26 (as per SEIA reports), ranking it above at the 12th position Nation wise. Even the solar industry employment is going great in Colorado, with approximately 6,847 jobs around. Till 2019, enough solar has been installed to power as many as 2.5 lakh homes. More and more educational institutes and universities are coming forward to support solar power science and technology. Formerly, the Mary Baldwin University of the United States was the first one to inaugurate this practice. Since then the ritual of a smart flower installation has continued in several other universities of the United States. Just like the University of Northern Colorado, Rockingham County Schools in North Carolina has set up a new smart flower solar energy unit. The University of Denver is all prepared to install over seven thousand solar panels across their campus; construction will be finished by 2020.
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