Lotus Mobile solar charging array (Image: Monarch Power)Enlarge Photo
Given millions of years of adaptation to conditions, it's no surprise that nature is pretty good at doing what it does.
Each leaf on a tree, and indeed the shape of a tree's canopy, is the work of refinements over millenia to capture the most sunlight possible to ensure the tree's growth.
Why not take some of those lessons and apply them to our own energy needs? That explains the familiar shape of the Lotus Mobile (via Earth Techling), a solar array designed for portability and optimized energy capture.
Arizona-based Monarch Power developed the Lotus Mobile, which uses eighteen solar panels in a circular array to capture sunlight for recharging electric cars and home appliances, depending on where you erect it.
It should be fairly efficient, as the company illustrates, "Lotus Mobile follows the sun on two axes, giving 30% more power than rooftop solar panels. It’s also less expensive because of significantly less structural support, since 70% of the traditional panel system cost is related to architectural placement."
It does't look particularly portable in its "flower" arrangement, but the panels fold up into a much smaller space for easy transportation. Realistically it's still more "cargo van" than "your car's trunk", but portability is relative to your needs.
That isn't just a boon if you want to charge your Tesla Roadster in the middle of nowhere--the car in the image above is owned my Monarch Power founder Joseph Hui--but also for use in areas with little to no power to start with, such as deprived areas of third-world countries.
That's where the Lotus Mobile's reasonable pricing also comes in. The company touts an "introductory price" of $3,999, but the first fifty contributors to the firm's Kickstarter campaign--not yet underway--will save a further $800.
For U.S. buyers, federal tax credits, and additional tax credits in Arizona where the company is based, could drop the price as low as $1,440.
You might not want to carry the Lotus Mobile around all the time, but for those expeditions into the wilderness--or simply attaching to your garage--it's a unique way of gathering clean energy for your electric vehicle.