This amazing Solar Power Tree generates the same amount of electricity as a conventional array, but on a much smaller plot of land. The solar power innovation was developed by the Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute (CSIR-CMERI), and it went online recently in New Delhi. Union Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, touted the vertical arrangement of solar cells as a novel design for urban and rural regions where available land is scarce.

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A Solar Power Tree is almost exactly what it sounds like: a tree-like structure with vertically oriented branches holding up photovoltaic panels. One Solar Power Tree has an energy-producing capacity of 5 kilowatts, using just four square feet of land compared to the 400 square feet needed by a conventional solar array with the same output. That’s enough energy to light five homes.

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Solar power trees such as this one are capable of harnessing 10 to 15 percent more power compared to ground-mounted solar arrays. The tree charges a battery backup system that can provide two hours of light after sunset on a full charge. The solar tree is also self-cleaning, with a built-in water sprinkler to clear any debris that would interfere with efficiency.

Three locations in West Bengal, India recently participated in a pilot project, showing the solar tree device can function properly. Future iterations of the device will be equipped with a rotating mechanism to enable the tree to track the sun over the course of the day, further maximizing its potential output. The system costs an estimated $7500 USD for a 5 KW model, and the trees can be installed individually or in groups for even more clean energy generation.

+ Government of India Department of Science and Technology

Images via Dr. Harsh Vardhan/Twitter