Lavender Pond Farm, New England’s largest lavender farm, has installed a solar SmartFlower, the first all-in-one, plug and play photovoltaic solar system.
Inspired by sunflowers and other phototropic plants that follow the sun across the horizon, the SmartFlower wakes up at sunrise, fans out its twelve 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° 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.
Thanks to its plant-inspired design, the SmartFlower takes up less space than traditional solar panels but yields 40% more output – up to 4,000 – 6,500 kWh per year. While there are over 1,000 SmartFlowers installed in Europe, Asia and The Middle East, the Lavender Pond Farm SmartFlower is the first in Connecticut and only the second installed in the United States.
“We are thrilled to deploy the SmartFlower,” said 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 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Rural Energy for America (REAP) Renewable Energy System grant. The REAP program helps increase American energy independence by increasing the private sector supply of renewable energy and decreasing the demand for energy through energy efficiency improvements.
“This procurement and deployment of the SmartFlower represented a total team effort,” continued 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.”
— Solar Builder magazine