A UK start-up is nearing full scale production of a new green energy alternative – solar trees. Chris Shelley, CEO of SolarBotanic Trees, has said that there are 2 models in development; one standing at 5.5 metres tall, the other at 3.5m, “The idea is to put solar panels on a domed surface like the canopy of a tree, and then place a battery storage system into the trunk,” he states.
“Putting solar cells and batteries into the same structure is very practical, as it allows them to store excess energy without having to solely rely on its backup grid supply,” Shelley adds.
The UK currently has a target of 325,000 electric car charging points to be installed by 2032. Currently, there are just over 25,000 around the UK. Although a third more than there were a year ago, this number is still clearly very far from the target.
SolarBotanic Trees has deals in place with major EV infrastructure suppliers within the UK, which already includes an order of 200 trees from the Raw Charging Group.
Innovation within renewable energy technologies is a key part of the green energy changeover. Solar Power, Wind Power, Hydrogen and other forms of Sustainable Energy can help achieve this changeover and global net zero targets. The Renewable Energy Institute offers many Expert Pathways designed to allow businesses and professionals to tap into these energy alternatives.
The original plans for the trees were to provide both solar and wind power – with cells on the top dome tapping into solar energy whilst patented leaves that “fluttered” in the breeze would capture wind. However, this method turned out to not be viable and the focus remained only on solar power. SolarBotanic Trees remains hopeful that wind power can be incorporated once technology allows.
The next steps for SolarBotanic Trees are to finalise commercial orders for their customers by 2024. From there, the US and European markets will be the target with the hopes of developing the solar trees to be suited to other tasks too. Integrated seating, heating fixtures and phone charging points are all ideas wanting to be explored by SolarBotanic Trees, creating a product that is multi-use and self-sustaining.
Shelley has commented on the plans, stating “There are quite a lot of variations on the core theme – off grid versions that don’t need to meet the electricity demands of an electric vehicle could serve as work or social areas in town squares with telephone and laptop charging, seating and shelter.”
He goes on to add, “Beyond commercial and municipal uses, the trees could go in people’s gardens to supplement rooftop solar panel setups, or several of them could even meet the annual electrical requirement of a medium-sized house.”
With ambitious plans for the UK markets and abroad, these solar trees could be the first step into a new brand of solar panels that go beyond the basic practicality of energy collection and are designed to be integral to everyday life. Incorporation of solar energy generation with household and commercial products could be the driving force behind the world switching over to green energy.