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Three Solar Designs That We Are Thankful For

Jessica PirroNovember 19, 20196770

Different Solar Designs Changing the World

The solar energy industry is constantly evolving, and as of now, most solar panel installations are normally rooftop or ground-mounts. But some innovations could be changing the way that solar energy is generated.

Solar Roads

Solar power roads and highways are new to the solar energy industry. Solar power roadways are roadways that integrates photovoltaic cells, that works in the same way as solar panels.

What Are Roadways Integrated With Photovoltaic Cells?

Solar roadways are going to be any kind of road with some sort of solar technology. The solar power technology is going to be attached to the surface of the toad and will then produce solar electricity while automobiles are continuing to drive on it. While this new solar power technology seems like ‘all the rage’ they are not yet a realistic solar power system yet.

Solar Roadways, a solar company located in the United States, has raised quite a bit of fund for the purposes of prototyping the installation of solar power roads. However, the solar company is still quite a bit away from actually installing a road that will generate solar power. Because this solar power technology is new, there will be new challenges that they will face, in the manufacturing and installing process of solar power roads.

The American Road & Transportation Builders Association has made claims, in the lower 48 states there are 8,615,000 miles of road, which is going to translate into 18,000 square miles of land covered inroads. This translation makes it more than 3x the land area of the state of Connecticut.

There was an analysis that the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) did back in 2008, there were roughly 1,948 square feet of land, per person, is going to be needed to produce enough solar electricity for the entire country to run on solar power. Then, if you multiply that number by the entire population of the United States, you would then find, for the entire country to run on a solar energy you would need nearly 23,000 square miles of land. When you compare that to the square mileage of roads in the U.S., we will find that covering the roads with photovoltaic cells in the lower 48 states, the United States would find that they would be able to produce a little less than 80 percent of their electricity needs. Keep in mind that these calculations are only a rough estimate.

Smartflower Solar-Powered Systems

The Smartflower is a “flower” that is made up of solar panels. This solar panel array is a ground-mounted solar-powered system, that is equipped with a solar energy tracker that follows the sun. This solar energy device is going to look a little different than what you may be used to. The solar-powered system looks like a giant flower.

How Smartflower Solar-Powered Systems are Different From Other Solar Panel Options

This solar panel installation looks like a flower, coining the name solar flower. The solar panels are arranged on individual “petals” that open at the beginning of each day. When the sun goes down, the Smartflower’s petals fold up and the self-cleaning process kicks in.

In addition to solar panels, the Smartflower residential solar-powered system is equipped with a dual-axis tracker, which makes it possible for the petals to follow the sun across the sky throughout the day. Thanks to the tracking capability, the Smartflower residential solar-powered system can produce a lot more solar electricity than a similarly-sized rooftop solar panel installation. According to Smartflower’s website, these solar-powered systems produce up to 40 percent more solar electricity when compared to other residential solar-powered systems. The 12-petal, 194 square-foot structure produces 2.5 kilowatts (kW) of solar electricity, which is equivalent to a 3.5 to a 4 kW fixed solar-powered system.

There is currently only one solar flower model that is available in the United States. The Austria based solar company has plans to make two additional models with new features. The Smartflower plus is going to have the same solar electricity generation benefits that the standard Smartflower has. The new device will also have an integrated battery that provides 6 to 13 kWh of solar power storage. It was expected to be available to the United States customers in early 2018, but the actual rollout is not clear.

Solar Panel Trees 

One of the new and innovative advances in the solar power industry is the solar panel tree. The solar panel trees aren’t to be confused with mass solar panel farms or mass solar gardens, they are their invention.

What Are Solar Panel Trees?

Solar panel trees are a long pole with a solar panel installation on top. The poles can support multiple solar panels, much like the branches on a tree.

These solar trees will fall under the broader category of a ground-mounted solar-powered system. What makes this setup of solar panels different from other setups is the unique design.

The concept emerged from different sources around the same time, which makes it hard to determine who was the first to debut solar panel trees. Over the years the innovation was tested and refined by different solar panel manufacturers all over the world.

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