This isn’t the first time we’ve covered Solar Ivy here at EarthTechling, but frankly, we can’t tell how we feel about it. On the one hand, it is clearly a very cool way to capture solar energy on the sides of buildings. On the other hand, does it really look like ivy? Or does it just look weird?
Soon, you’ll be able to decide for yourself, as Solar Ivy–miniature solar panels made to look like ivy, that can be mounted on buildings–will be available commercially. According to Jetson Green, this biomimicry-inspired innovation is constructed of recyclable polyethylene leaves, Konarka Power Plastic organic photovoltaics and a structural stainless steel mesh system. Each “leaf” produces about half a watt of power.
All aesthetics aside, there are a lot of benefits to this innovation. Controlling heat gain in buildings, for instance–just like regular ivy. Also, there’s a major benefit here that regular PV solar panels cannot touch: if one of these tiny solar panels goes out, it’s as easy to change it out as changing a bulb in a string of Christmas lights (provided you can figure out where the non-performing leaf is located). It will be interested to see if the residential market embraces this product, or if it winds up being more of a favorite of eco art students and avant-garde designers.
Enjoying EarthTechling? Vote for us as Best Sci-Tech Blog (scroll down to fourth category) in the TreeHugger Best of Green Awards! Thanks!