There are more and more alternatives for taking advantage of the sun’s energy that attempt to minimize the visual impact that installing conventional panels can have on a home. Integrated systems like this from Tesla, priceless rooftop presence or virtually transparent installations are some of the options available, plus PV ivy. This alternative is inspired by this climbing plant so that the system integrates fully into the facades or walls of a house or building.
The idea, still in the development phase, arose neither more nor less than in 2005, when Samuel Cochram reflected the work he had developed with his sister Teresita in a thesis written for the Pratt Institute in New York.
The idea of this pair of brothers was simple: to follow the model offered by nature, the system reproduces the structure of ivy leaves to integrate an extra-flat photovoltaic film in each of them, which allows, among other things, that any failure in one of the rooms is easily resolved by changing only the one that suffered the problem.
This ivy was designed as a modular system which allows the system to be easily upgradeable. Thus, each room has five blades to capture energy which, under optimal conditions, can generate up to 85 watts.
The way this initiative has been designed makes its vertical installation very simple and fully adaptable to the needs of each particular case. In addition, design maximizes energy recovery capacity of each of the modules, because the leaves are not static, but can move to adapt their position to the sunlight.
Despite the enormous potential of this system, SMIT, the company created by the Cochram brothers to implement this concept, continues to work to bring this idea to commercial scale. The high cost of putting it into practice may have hindered the development of this solar ivy, which however aroused great interest when it was exhibited at places like MOMA in New York.