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Flower Power

Renewable energy is in full bloom at Franklin Park Zoo

Guests to Franklin Park Zoo will see renewable energy in motion as two Smartflower solar panel systems harness the sun’s energy to generate sustainable energy for the Zoo.

The 16-by-16-foot Smartflowers model actual sunflowers both in form and function. Using advanced robotics and automation, the unit’s 12 “petals” freely track and follow the sun so they’re always at an optimal angle. Each day at sunset, the Smartflower automatically folds up and cleans itself using brushes on the back of each panel to remove contaminates like dust or snow. These smart designs increase the unit’s efficiency and enable the system to generate 40 percent more energy than a traditional system.

The Zoo’s two Smartflowers are expected to generate 10,000 kilowatts of electricity annually (approximately 5,000 kilowatts each), enough to generate the majority of the energy needed annually to power the Zoo’s carousel and two new electric golf carts.