• Bhavya Putta

Solar Tree - A Promising Power Source


INTRODUCTION

A Solar Tree
A Solar Tree

Technological enhancements have created a stronger planet to live on. They have also raised the energy demand. Considering the pollution levels of the Earth, countries are now looking forward to increasing the usage of Renewable sources of energy to meet the power demands of the modern world. #Solar Energy is one of the widely used renewable sources of energy.

A #solartree is an effective way of harnessing solar energy, considering the availability of land and aesthetic conditions. It can produce large amounts of energy in comparatively lesser space than the conventional PhotoVoltaic modules. It is an efficient means of using solar energy. In this article, the origin, and description of solar trees, their need, a few famous solar trees, their advantages, disadvantages, and applications are discussed.


ORIGIN AND DESCRIPTION


Its origin is dated back to 1998. It is analogous to a real tree. It has a hollow supporting tube and many solar #panels at its top. Its topmost panel is installed in a way, that it has the best area of exposure to the sun, and doesn't cover the panels beneath. Several varieties of solar trees were developed, but not all were installed. Modern manufacturers of solar trees have included many cool features such as seating, aesthetics, lighting, mobile charging, and many more.


NEED FOR SOLAR TREES


With the accelerating energy demand, Solar trees seem to be a promising source of energy. Few reasons for this would be:


a) Effective energy production

'TREE' in this context stands for Tree generating Renewable Energy and Electricity. Solar trees produce quite efficient energy when compared to the standard system. It uses a technique named spiralling phyllataxy. In this method, all the solar panels are arranged in such a way that the bottom panels absorb the same amount of light as the panels on top. Hence, the efficiency of the model is increased. Phyllataxy is a botanical term which means the 'arrangement of leaves' and the term spiral means 'alternate'.


The solar trees can charge their batteries during the day and power their LEDs at night. They are programmed internally to control the amount of energy produced. The lamps are switched on during sunset and switched off during sunrise automatically. This is accomplished by using a sensor that measures the amount of light intensity in its neighbouring atmosphere.


b) Lesser space requirement

We need designs that can produce the maximum amount of energy occupying a minimum space(especially in densely populated countries like India). A PhotoVoltaic module requires 12-13 acres of land for generating 2MW of power, whereas the solar tree requires only 0.1 to 0.12 acres of land to produce the same amount of power.


A FEW EXAMPLES


1) Solar Power Tree by CMIR

Solar Power Tree
Solar Power Tree



This is the largest of its kind in the world producing 11.5 KW of power. It is constructed by the engineers of the Central Mechanical Research Institute, Durgapur in an area of 4 square feet. It is designed to meet the needs at public parks, National highways, Villages, Gardens, and to supply power to the grid.







2) Artifact of the solar Power Tree

A 2.5 KW solar power tree is installed at the Sarojini stadium of Durgapur Municipal corporation, West Bengal, India. It is also used in lighting parks and gardens by storing the energy produced in the batteries.


3) Possibility Tree

It is the first solar tree installed in Lagos, Nigeria. It comes with many possibilities as the name suggests. It has enduring furniture and aesthetics. It has Built-in batteries and hence can be used for quick mobile charging, and also for sitting, relaxing, etc.


4) Solar trees of Spotlight Solar


Spotlight Solar Tree
Spotlight Solar Tree

Spotlight Solar company is producing solar trees since 2011. These were made to utilize solar energy effectively and attractively. Some of these were placed at buildings such as The Orange County Convention Center, NC sate university, etc.




5) Imagine PowerTree Pvt.Ltd

The solar power tree installed at Shtrunda Village at Kheda District, Gujarat, India is used for desalinating the water and is supplied to villages nearby. By this initiative, the water quality of the area is improved from 1600 TDS to 150 TDS, hence improving their state of life.


THE SOLAR TREE FOUNDATION


It was started in 2008. Rein Triefeldt is its current president and also one of its founders. The solar tree foundation works to create awareness among the school students about solar trees and also conducts live online sessions where students can learn the processes that take place during the design and development of solar trees. The newest solar tree built by The Solar Tree #Foundation was installed at the North Hillsborough Elementary School in Hillsborough, #California. It can produce 20 kWh of energy in a day.


ADVANTAGES


Solar trees have many advantages. A few are mentioned here:

  • Increased efficiency.

  • Occupies less space.

  • Environmental friendly.

  • It requires less maintenance.

  • It is pollution-free.

  • One of the best solutions to growing power demands.

  • Reduces cost.

DISADVANTAGES

  • They can be dangerous to birds and insects.

  • High installation cost.

APPLICATIONS


Ross Lovegrove Solar Tree
Ross Lovegrove Solar Tree

Solar trees can be used in a wide variety of applications such as:

  • They can be installed in rural regions to compensate for the frequent power cuts.

  • They can be used to light street lamps, for decorative views, etc.

  • They can be installed in public places to create awareness about the need for solar energy.

  • They can also be used in supplying power to the grid which can be utilized in times of shortage.

  • A few more applications include installing them in Airports, National Highways, Private gardens, Parks, etc.


CONCLUSION:


Scientists have calculated that the Sun emits 3*10^26 watts of power into space of which 1.7*10^17 watts reach the Earth. This energy is in the form of Electromagnetic waves of wavelength around 3 micros. But, only a small fraction of this energy is being utilized by us. The future energy requirements demand a more effective way of utilizing solar energy. Hence structures like the solar trees are going to become way more prominent.

SEE ALSO

What is a solar panel?

What is Electricity?

Smart lighting system