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The SolarButterfly, a 30-foot, solar-powered, self-sustainable residential vehicle, visited Babcock Ranch—also known as America’s first solar-powered town—Monday afternoon, just as Hurricane Idalia approached the region.  

Noël Heinz, brand ambassador for SolarButterfly, gave Babcock Ranch founder Syd Kitson a tour of the vehicle.  

It didn’t take long. There’s a kitchen with an oven, sink and microwave, a living area with sitting room for two, a sleeping area with four bunk beds, storage for the solar panels and a back room full of computer equipment.  

“This is really what Babcock Ranch is all about, is innovation,” Kitson told Heinz’s team after a short presentation. About 30 residents were behind Babcock Ranch’s Discovery Center to view the vehicle. “What I really admire about what you’re doing is to bring awareness around the world.”  

A Tesla Model X tows the SolarButterfly as it travels from place to place. Up next was a planned trip to Tampa.  

So far, the invention has traveled about 17,000 miles to 29 countries and 160 events.  

In April, the SolarButterfly traveled to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, before winding its way south to Florida.  

Kitson applauded Heinz and his crew for promoting solar power and sustainable energy sources. Social Media Manager Kai Hicks and driver/engineer Marltin Baumeler assist Heinz, who also does engineering and serves as the spokesperson.  

“The fact that it’s able to charge up their automobile and they’re able to travel around the world, I think that’s fantastic,” Kitson said. “But I don’t think that’s the point. I think what they want to do is show the world that people are doing it, and the private sector is stepping up to do it. And there are a lot of people that support it.”  

At each stop, Heinz and his team unpack about 50 square meters of solar panels, which collect and store energy for the Tesla. About as many panels are on the roof of the RV and on side panels, which can be raised like wings, creating the butterfly look to the vehicle.  

Asked the price tag for the vehicle, Heinz couldn’t answer, he said, because he didn’t know.  

“This is the only SolarButterfly in the world,” Heinz said. “There is a lot of labor that went into it. There are 200 volunteers in this project. So, I can’t tell you the price.  

“It is tiny. It is nice. You get to know many people. And it’s very inspirational for us to meet all of these people. They’re pioneering ideas. But it’s also a little hot here in Florida, so it’s hard to live in it.”  

The SolarButterfly will continue its worldwide tour, leading up to December 2025, which will be the 10th anniversary of the Paris Agreement, which addressed climate change.  

“The last thing I want to say, is we really need you,” Heinz said. “We need everybody to stop global warming. This is what we are doing, raising awareness to climate change. We need everybody to be a part of it.” 

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