Point and power

Its a well known and obvious fact that when a surface faces the sun it is exposed to more light. Tracking the sun with a solar panel gives you up to 35% or more power over a similar sized fixed installation. But the motors to make this happen impose extra costs.

In the natural world, plants have evolved to follow the sun. So could we artificially mimic a sunflower and use this to point solar panels at the sun? MIT has demonstrated just such a system using a curved arch made from two different metals. Simple systems like this should be cheap and the techniques, known as biomimicry, have many applications beyond just tracking the sun.

But brining the natural world into today’s society is not just about hi tech applications. The picture illustrates living furniture, grow your own garden settings, certainly unique!