Solar Trees May Light Up Europe

This is a great innovation — the streets of Europe could soon be lit by "solar trees". These self-contained streetlights could save cities energy and money too. Unlike regular streetlights, they do not require costly underground wiring to install, and they are immune to blackouts. Designed by Ross Lovegrove, the lights have 10 solar panels arrayed at the top of tree-like branches, which charge built-in batteries. The batteries then power LEDs for illumination. Compared to conventional streetlights, they emit much less light pollution, because LEDs generate a very directed light. The trees also incorporate light detectors! So the lights automatically turn on sunset and off at sunrise.

The solar trees went on display for four weeks in October on a busy street — the Ringstrasse — in Vienna, Austria. They were able to provide enough light during the night-time even when the sun did not show for as much as four days in a row. The director of the program, Christina Werner said. "Someday soon solar trees could well be the main form of street lighting in Europe."

Putting solar powered LED light systems on trees would cut down on the carbon emissions and also slash the bills of local authorities, she said.

Street lighting consumed 10 percent of all the electricity used in Europe in 2006 or 2,000 billion KWh, and resulted in carbon emissions of 2,900 million ton.

The use of more energy-efficient lighting in the Austrian city of Graz, with a population of almost 300,000 saved the city 524,000 KWh of electricity and 67,200 euros [US $96,800] in 2005.

Via: RenewableEnergyAccess

28 thoughts on “Solar Trees May Light Up Europe”

  1. Where is the metaphor? Is our society increasingly becoming dependant on technology? I still think the wrist powered communicator was a great idea, but then came along cell phones…well, I guess the hands free ear pieces count for something!

  2. I’m wondering what their output light amount is. My experience with solar powered lighting is that it’s barely lighting at all, and does not last significantly long enough. If it were indeed to be used to light the streets, it would have to be bright enough to SAFELY illuminate the area. Otherwise, it’s there, but you’d still need additional lighting for actual functionality. Just a comment…

  3. i am building a small resort in jaipur, india which has a lot of sun. this would be a great idea, provided the cost is not prohibitive. could i get some info on who can supply this and the costs, etc. certainly worth looking at.

  4. Dear Sir
    we are Interesting in Solar Street light , and we have seen the solar trees light
    please send us more details about solar street light .
    prices and catalogs

    thank you

  5. Someone has been reading too many comic books. Those trees look like something we may one day see on the streets of Mars, but I’ve got an idea — How about installing solar panels along the streets to power our cars with sunlight? Now there would be free energy. Of course, you’d have to have back up power, and the panels would have to rotate with the sun.

  6. This will only work in cities with no or very few tall buildings. There are countless locals in NY that never see more than an hour of sunlight on a bright summer day. To work there the panels would have to be mounted atop the buildings and connected via cable to the batteries. Long cable runs using DC electricity to charge batteries don’t usually work so well.

  7. At first glance, they seemed a bit alien-like, but the more I studied the pictures, the more I grew to like the design. They almost look organic.

    I think it’s great that these innovations are being made. Now if only there was a way to integrate these with actually live trees, so as to bring some real plant-life back into our cities.

  8. Awesome innovation.

    May I suggest, for Solar Tree 2.0, panels that can be calibrated (depending on which way they ‘face’ when they are installed (planted?) so that the panels tilt slightly to follow the sun, so they’re always at a 90° angle to it, which will maximize the amount of energy received and stored.

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