Solar panels that imitate movement of plants – project of AGH UST student

Prototype of device for controlling and operating solar panels, photo by Karolina Gocyk

A student of the AGH University of Science and Technology has constructed an innovative version of a device for controlling and operating solar panels. The construction imitates the movements of plants, following the best insolation.  

The project by Karolina Gocyk, an AGH UST student, involves placing a solar panel at the top of a construction in the shape of a plant stem, which has a number of smaller solar cells with connected mechanisms controlling the entire structure. The construction is flexible and can freely follow the changing position of the sun. Thanks to this, the so-called “tracker” allows the panels to change the angle of inclination depending on the angle of light incidence, so that solar energy is used most effectively. 

The stem can be assembled in a number of ways, thanks to which it can be adjusted to different environments. Consequently, this allows to locate solar cells in any place, for example, on the top of a roof, or any other inclined surface. The modular structure makes the mechanism more resistible to wind and frost. Thanks to the flexibility of the device, the solar panels can also be located on large area in which they can work together, even in a squeeze. This increases the efficiency of contemporary photovoltaic power stations (solar farms), where panels have to be placed in a certain distance from one another. 

The solution also allows to build small solar farms that are sufficient for the needs of a household, or to create mini power stations that can be placed on a desk or windowsill. The latter can be used to charge a phone, a power bank, or other electronic devices of low energy consumption. 

For her project, Karolina Gocyk won an award at the science festival Gdynia E(x)plory Week 2018. Currently, the idea is at the stage of a prototype, but it is quite likely that it can attract a company interested in the production of the device on a wider scale. It would be an opportunity to increase the popularity of solar panels among individuals as well as companies.   

Karolina Gocyk’s project is one of many student inventions at our university that use the sun as a source of energy. AGH UST has already had a solar boat, and it is also planned to complete the project of an unmanned airplane powered by solar energy. AGH UST students have also taught photovoltaics in Tajikistan.