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These electric sunflowers light up Austin's night sky by Ariel Min
Travel

WATCH| At a glance, the Mueller SunFlowers look nothing like actual sunflowers. You may pass them off as oddly shaped satellite dishes or random fixtures dotted along the I-35. But the "Electric Garden" stands, quietly collecting the sun's energy everyday. 


The Solar SunFlowers in Austin are part of the Mueller neighborhood in the Texas capital, a community that has undergone significant changes in the city's urban development plans

Tasked with creating a completely urban environment that would foster a pedestrian community, the city planners worked with Catellus Development to transform the former site of the Robert Mueller Municipal Airport into a sprawling eco-friendly neighborhood. 

As part of the project, Catellus worked with artists Mags Harries and Lajos Heder, both of whom have worked on more than 30 major public art commissions since 1990. Their 15 blue SunFlowersoutline the edge of the Mueller development. 

So how do the SunFlowersactually light up the sky? The process is simple: The photovoltaic solar panels on the surface collect the sun's energy during the day, then it powers the LED lights on the installation at night.  

The installation also returns energy to the city's power grid - since it was installed in 2009, it has generated more than 380,000 kilowatt hours of energy, which is enough to offset more than 560,000 miles worth of carbon emissions from the average American car (that's like, if you went back and forth from New York to Los Angeles 200 times).