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.
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.
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.
Images via Dr. Harsh Vardhan/Twitter