New solar energy device to be included at FSU science building

Published: Jul. 18, 2017 at 4:42 PM EDT
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By: Brittany Bedi | WCTV Eyewitness News

July 18, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- A new type of solar device has arrived in Tallahassee. A small crowd of city workers, scientists, and solar energy enthusiasts caught a live demonstration of the Smartflower Tuesday.

The Smartflower is a freestanding machine that fans out a series of solar panels and then tilts to follow the sun. Each panel is made of monocrystalline silicon, a material proven to be very productive in higher temperatures.

“We have a concentration of the most amount of energy that we can put in a 16 foot diameter,” said Al Simpler, CEO of Simpler Solar Systems.

Originally designed in Austria, the Smartflower is the first of its kind available in the United States.

“Europe is ahead of us when it comes to using solar energy,” said Simpler. “It’s about time we use clean energy that’s renewable. We have lots of it in abundance. It’s for the future of our children, probably more than it is for us.”

Local oceanographer and solar energy enthusiast John Winchester purchased one of the three available units. Winchester will use the solar panels as a public and private cooperation between Simpler Solar Systems and Florida State University.

“We should get used to living with our ecosystem and at least make use of solar energy like this,” said Winchester. “For education, it ought to be extremely useful.”

Winchester plans to donate the Smartflower to FSU. It will be located at the new Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences building that is currently under construction.