Austin’s Solar Sunflowers

A while ago I wrote about the Solar Sunflowers that are installed on the rear end of a retail park in Austin.  They’re large beautiful structures that you can see on I-35 as you drive by a certain Home Depot.  Here’s the aerial view:

I have always wanted to see these things up close and personal, so when Leia and I were driving down I-35 to hook up with some friends for SXSW we sort of spotted them from the highway.  It’s pretty fantastic to see something like this after you’ve researched it – the experience was awesome.  It’s also nice to be able to have a light nerd freakout around my wife.

The photovoltaics for these units are built into the structure of each of the 15 flowers; they in themselves are functioning art.  During the day, the sun shines through the PV material, which has some blue poly edges that create beautiful blue light in the shadows.  At night the sunflowers’ stamen-like LED arrays illuminate the face of the PV panel with deep blue light.  Beautiful!

Austin’s Solar Sunflower Garden, off off I-35 – JimOnLight.com from Jim Hutchison on Vimeo.

  • Wow! These are beautiful. What a fun, whimsical design. I was going to ask what the purpose of these sunflowers is, because clearly they’re not meant for general illumination. But thanks your awesome blogging skills, I clicked on the link of your previous post and learned that they are “a highly visible metaphor for the energy-conscious city of Austin.” Um, yeah, just another reason why Austin is an incredible place.

  • Very cool and lovely. I heard about these and saw a couple “from the side” images. Yours are outstanding – it really captures the scale and transparency. Thanks for posting.