Solar Innovation: Inspired by Nature

Drew Boyd & Jacob Goldenberg recognized a pattern in innovation to create a systematic approach: Subtraction, Division, Multiplication, Task Unification and Attribute Dependency. They call it the Systematic Inventive Thinking, or SIT. We’re doing a series of how solar technologies approach innovation. Let’s take a look at how some of these innovation approaches (Task Unification and Attribute Dependency) apply to solar technologies inspired by nature.

Solar Flower

Icon Solar gets a lot of questions about the solar flower, which we don’t sell for a variety of reasons. Mimicking the sunflower, the SmartFlower operates under the Attribute Dependency innovation approach. The panels move, depending on the location of the sun, maximizing their capture of the sun’s energy. When the sun rises, the array opens up, and when the sun sets, the array folds in.

Photo from SmartFlower Solar
Photo from SmartFlower Solar

Solar Tree

The most distinguishing features of Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay are not fancy fountains or a nice baseball field. It’s the 18 towering super trees, 11 of which have PV cells. Like real trees, these solar trees serve a host of purposes, acting with the Task Unification innovation approach. The trees are “generating solar power, acting as air venting ducts for nearby conservatories, and collecting rainwater.” They absorb and disperse heat and shelter those below from the sweltering sun above. Additionally, they host a variety of plants to clean the air and provide a more welcoming environment for local fauna. Talk about solar superpower!

Photo by Mike Enerio on Unsplash
Photo by Mike Enerio on Unsplash

Energy Tree

Like Singapore’s solar super trees, a concept has long been fluttering in the wind: nanoleaf energy trees. The nanoleaves use a technology called piezoelectrics, which turn vibrations into energy. Piezoelectrics were discovered in the 1880s, and, applied to nanoleaves, they can use the wind, rain, and even touch to generate electricity. Solar Botanic’s idea uses solar, heat, and movement power to generate electricity in a technology they call “nantenna electromagnetic collectors.” This concept uses its environment to produce electric, and, using Attribute Dependence, the energy will come from whatever energy source is available at a given moment. If it’s hot, it uses the thermoelectric technology. If it’s sunny, it uses the photovoltaic technology. If it’s windy, it uses the piezoelectrics. Additionally, the trees serve as natural habitats for the environment. As of now, none of the trees produce enough to be on the market.

Photo from Solar Botanic
Photo from Solar Botanic

Icon Solar will always bring you the best technology for the best price possible to give you maximum financial benefit from a solar system. We strive to stay up-to-date on the latest technologies, and we look forward to what innovations arise in the solar industry. Stay tuned to see what innovations are out there in our blog!