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Solar SmartFlower blooms at Connecticut lavender farm

Lavender Pond Farm, one of New England’s larger lavender farms, has announced the installation of a solar SmartFlower, the first all-in-one, plug-and-play photovoltaic solar system, according to a news release.

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.

SMARTFLOWERSunflowers that follow the sun across the horizon inspired the design of this solar SmartFlower at Lavender Pond Farm in Killingworth, CT.“We are thrilled to deploy the SmartFlower,” said Denise Salafia, owner at Lavender Pond Farm in Killingworth, CT, in the release. “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.”

Thanks to its plant-inspired design, the SmartFlower takes up less space than traditional solar panels but yields 40 percent 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.

The purchase of the SmartFlower was funded in part by a United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development Rural Energy for America 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 tem effort,” said Salafia in the release.

“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,” she continued. “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.”

Visitors to Lavender Pond Farm can see the SmartFlower along with more than 10,000 lavender plants on the 25-acre farm from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. daily.

You can watch the SmartFlower in action at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-e9pOxKovvQ.

For more information, go to www.lavenderpondfarm.com.