Adapted from an item in Robert Whitcomb's "Digital Diary'' column in GoLocal24.com
Much of the future of electricity will involve “distributive power,’’ in which instead of getting our electricity from big power plants, we’ll get a lot of it via small-scale renewable energy, often generated right where we live or work. This reduces the political problems and endless delays of siting big power plants and gives far more control to consumers. With recent huge efficiency improvements in renewables the “distributive-power’’ revolution can only speed up. (There are electricity-grid issues posed by this decentralization.) This is particularly attractive in New England, which must import from outside the region far too much of its energy.
A new example of the possibilities is “smartflower,’’ (smartflower.com) an Austrian solar-energy system that tracks the sun for maximum efficiency. Looking like giant flowers, smartflower systems fold out every morning and then fold in at dusk. The manufacturer says it gets up to 40 percent more yield from sunlight than does a roof-mounted system.
You can put these things in your yard or on flat roofs; they take only an hour or two to be installed. And this fall, storage batteries will be available. Smartflower systems cost about $25,000 to buy and install; clean-energy tax credits would let you recoup some of this expense. And you can take these things with you when you move.
A smartflower unit will be on display at the entrance to the Rhode Island Home Show March 30-April 2 at the Rhode Island Convention Center. Take a look! And no, I do nit have any financial stake in this company.