Solar Ivy was inspired by traditional mansions, where ivy decorates the exterior walls and reflects the organic essence of nature. Created in collaboration with Brooklyn-based parent company SMIT, Solar Ivy is a series of solar cells printed with conductive ink that resemble ivy leaves. The leaves have been designed to be placed on the outside of residential or commercial buildings as a way of utilizing and absorbing solar energy, whilst also doubling as a shade screen.
The original idea came from siblings Samuel and Teresita Cochran, for a thesis on Sustainably Minded Interactive Technology in 2005. Since then, the idea has grown into a fully fledged business, and a piece at the Museum of Modern Art's "Design and the Elastic Mind" exhibition in New York.
Lightweight and flexible, Solar Ivy can reportedly be easily mounted on to a vertical wall, not only creating a pleasing aesthetic but also expanding the area of power generation. Using a steel mesh base, the solar leaves can bend to create various curved or rigid shapes, or be mounted to contour the outer surface of a structure. Each leaf features a thin photovoltaic panel and is available in three types.
The organic type contains non toxic materials, with each leaf costing around US$18 and producing 0.5 watts. The amorphous silicon leaves costs US$23 each and produce 0.75 watts a piece, whilst the CIGS option utilizes a more efficient type of thin-film which costs approximately US$21 per leaf and produces 4 watts of energy. Depending on the desired look, customers can select from a range of colors and shapes to suit their style. On average, 500 Solar Ivy leaves are recommend for a residential house, which would generate close to 250 watts of power.