(5 Aug 2017) LEADIN

A transportable solar power system, which acts like a giant flower, is now available from the Philippines.
The Smartflower POP claims to be able to produce 40 percent more power compared to traditional rooftop solar systems.
STORYLINE
This might look like a piece of modern art – but it is really an award winning solar power design.
The Smartflower POP was founder by an Austrian man Alex Swatek and his two partners in 2010.
They wanted to design a simple way to produce photovoltaic (converting sunlight into electricity) technology accessible and appealing to residential and business customers.
Now the giant flower-like system has made its way to Philippine shores.
President of Smartflower Pacific, John McEnroe, hopes that their product will attract more people in the Philippines to greener energy production.
“Smartflower is an in-your-face announcement of renewable energy that will show your friends, colleagues, business partners or competitors you’re really dedicated to going green, reducing your carbon footprint and being a good steward of the environment, which is what Smartflower hopes to do,” he says.
The Smartflower POP is as efficient as it’s eye-catching. The company claims that its components can produce 40 percent more power compared to traditional rooftop solar systems.
With a sunflower-inspired design, the 194 square-foot (59 square-metre) unit has 12 petals of solar panels attached to a dual-axis tracker.
This allows the system to benefit from maximum sun exposure by monitoring light rays from sunrise to sunset, a characteristic that clearly distinguishes the Smartflower POP from rooftop panels that absorb light from a predetermined angle.
Each unit is programmed to work autonomously after the initial set-up. In the first ray of light the system opens, or rather blooms, to expand its petals for the day.
It shuts down on its own when it detects that the sun has set and, with gentle bristles under each petal, it cleans itself in the process.
In bad weather such as heavy rain it detects the wind speed and automatically closes to avoid any damage to the petals. Since it’s an all-in-one ‘plug and play’ system it can also be transported when needed if the owner goes house.
It creates around 3,400 to 6,200 kWh annually depending on the area. If a customer has a greater energy requirement, Smartflower also offers customised units with updated electricity production.
The Philippines’ first Smartflower POP unit was installed at De La Salle Lipa (DLSL), an educational institution in a state about an hour away from the capital Manila.
Arnold Capuloy, Chief Strategy and Advancement Officer in De La Salle Lipa, says the school needed to set an example and educate the community about doing their part to save the environment:
“This one is a conversation piece. By getting their attention it will give us a time for us to discuss our advocacy, to share with them the reason why we are using this and an appeal really. It’s time for us to make an appeal to them to do the same,” he says.
Due to its ‘plug-and play’ guarantee, it took just 2 hours to install the Smartflower POP. After it was mounted, exact coordinates for it to track the sun were then inputted.
The Philippines still greatly depends upon fossil fuels for electricity. Coal generated 48 percent of the country’s power in 2016 according to the Department of Energy.
But with a National Renewable Energy Programme in place, more efforts are being made to create greener energy. And companies like Smartflower are now offering Filipinos a wider choice of renewable energy options.
Paul Cabacungan is Head of Operations in the Ateneo Innovation Center, which specialises in designing solar-powered apparatus to help remote communities have off-the-grid independence.

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