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Investigating Hype Over the Smartflower, 40 Percent More Efficient than Solar Panels

A Tweet on the alleged "Future of Solar Power" caught my eye. Let's investigate.
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Smartflower image from video below.

Smartflower image from video below.

The technology is interesting but the video seems like an advertorial.

"Smartflower is a smart solar panel that follows the sun. It produces 40% more energy than regular solar panels and generates 4,000 kWh per year, comparable to an average household's daily use."

That's not true, at least in the US. 

Energy Use in Homes 

The US Energy Information says the average U.S. household consumes about 11,000 kilowatthours (kWh) per year. That was in 2015. 

The 2020 Average Electricity Consumption was 10,715 kilowatthours (kWh). Louisiana had the highest annual electricity consumption at 14,407 kWh.

Smartflower History

EnergySage did a Complete Solar Flower Review

In late 2017, the Austrian manufacturer of the Smartflower began bankruptcy proceedings in Germany. However, the U.S. division of Smartflower operates independently from the original Austrian developer and had planned on starting to manufacture Smartflower solar flowers in the United States.

Despite the hype, the technology is not that new. The company went bankrupt for a reason and cost is undoubtedly most of that reason.

The cost to install a Smartflower ranges from $25,000 to $30,000, with the average U.S. customer likely paying around $27,000. Pricing for the Smartflower PLUS and the Smartflower with integrated car charging is not yet available.

To power a US house you would need three of these babies. In Louisiana, you night need four of them. 

The average cost to power a sunbelt house using the Smartflower is in the neighborhood of $100,000.

EnergySage comments "Without the tracking and self-cleaning functionality, the Smartflower is simply a standard ground-mounted system at twice the price."

The Future of Solar Energy?

Smartflower bills itself as the "Future of Solar Energy. 

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As of 2020, there were 124 million US households. Each household would need about 2.5 Sunflowers. 

$27,000 * 124,000,000 * 2.5 =   $8,370,000,000,000

Where we would put 310 million of these is a mystery. How we would get energy from the desert to where it's needed is also a mystery. 

The Payback Period

There is none. 

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average monthly residential electric bill for Americans was $117.46 in 2020, up from $115 in 2019.

$117.46 * 12 = $1,409.52. 

$100,000 /  $1,409.52/Year  = 71 years 

That assumes electric bills will be constant. But it also assumes zero maintenance costs on the Sunflower. And that won't happen either. The warranty period is 10 years on the inverter and 25 years on the panels.  

Finally, what about interest on $100,000 or the opportunity cost of spending $100,000 on these and the cost of connecting this to your home?

EnergySage concludes "In most cases, a standard rooftop or ground-mounted system will be significantly more cost-effective for your home."

At these prices, the Sunflower is not the future of anything. 

This post originated at MishTalk.Com.

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