(Image via: Zedomax)
In our search for the best way to array our new-fangled solar paneling, we’re going back to the oldest design of all. A few years ago the solar tree was little more than a stylish concept drawing, as with the above gadget-charging proposal…
(Images via: Metaefficient)
…but now you can find solar trees lining streets. Artificial trees are making headlines for other reasons, but the variety featured above are designed to light our sidewalks, not scrub the air. With luck these are the shape of Northern European streetlights to come – by day trapping the energy from sunlight, and by night expending it downwards using directed LED lighting. For anyone having problems with the phrases “Northern Europe” and “sunlight” occupying the same sentence, the lighting allegedly stores enough during one full day of sunshine to be able to illuminate for four nights running. Efficiency? Getting street lighting off the grid will reduce European electricity demand by a whopping 10%.
(Images via: Yanko Design and EcoTech Daily)
But we can all join in the fun. If you want to charge your favorite gadgets while you hit the surf, stick the Solar-Tree in the sand, hook everything up, and away you go. The device promises to fit every conceivable gadget. Top marks for the idea – but we have questions. Exactly how much energy can you collect from a panel that size – and how much will it cost in the shops?
(Image via: Inhabitat)
Individual solar trees are all very well – but what happens when we make a forest of them? Designer Neville Mars has developed the idea of a photovoltaic “parking grove” – a place where electric vehicles can tap into a constantly renewing source of energy. The overlapping panels automatically rotate to find the sunlight. Who would believe a car-park could look like that? Stunning. There is only one thing missing, a piece of sustainable, eco-friendly technology that has served our planet well enough for the last few million years – because there is no beating the original.