Uhh... what am I looking at here?
This is the Smartflower POP, a fetching alternative to roof-bound solar panels. And before you ask - no, you don't need to water it.
If you accidentally do spray it along with the petunias however then there's no need to worry, as it's completely weather proof.
Okay, so other than confusing bees, what's this got over a regular solar panel?
Glad you asked. For starters it's easy as pie to install, unlike rooftop solar panels. Pop it in your garden, screw it into the ground, and you're done.
Its creators slightly exaggerate when they describe it as 'plug and play' but it's very nearly that simple. It's also less intrusive than a rooftop setup, which is perfect for people living in listed buildings where modern jiggerypokery isn't an option.
I don't live in a listed building, gimme more.
As well as being easier to install it's also more efficient. The Smarflower POP claims to generate 40% more electricity per square metre than a conventional rooftop system by rotating on its two moveable axis so that it's always directly facing the sun, exactly like a flower.
This system also allows it to generate energy more consistently across the day, unlike static solar panels in which the output dips as the sun moves out of a favourable angle. Smartflower claims that this increases the amount of power provided to the home (and not wasted due to troughs in usage) by 100%.
A point well made. But my house is big. And flowers are small....
In most instances you'd be right, but this flower has a diameter of 4.4 metres and a total surface area of 18 metres squared. That's much smaller than the average roof but it still generates roughly 4,000 kWh per year dependent on where you live.
The likelyhood of running a 6-bedroom detatched house on that amount is small, but in a reasonably sized home you stand a chance of staying off the grid entirely as the average electricity consumption for a house in the UK is around 4600 kWh. Americans can keep dreaming as they guzzle a startling 11,700 kWh.
I still need convincing....
Tough sell eh? Okay, how about this - the product brochure contains a lengthy recommendation from Arnold Schwarzenegger, former governor of California and scourge of T-2000 model terminators everywhere.
On a more practical note, the petals unfold automatically when the sun comes up, and they retract again at night to keep them protected. This also has the benefit of auto-wiping the panels, preventing them from becoming dirty and inefficient like regular panels.
How much will one of these knock back my wallet?
There's no official price at the moment and the Smartflower POP will only be available through selected partners in the UK. Its predecessor, the Smartflower 32 cost a wallet-busting £15,000 and, let's not lie, that's a lot of money considering that rooftop systems have now plummeted in price to about £7000.
Though in the case of a purchase like this, which is constantly saving you money, the higher price tag simply means that it will take longer to pay for itself. We reckon that the smartflower would have covered its own cost in about a decade in the average UK home, in addition to, y'know, saving the planet and stuff.