Global warming is one of the biggest current existing threats to humanity. As more and more nations are investing heavily into mitigating this threat, they are looking for new and innovative renewable energy technologies. As well as new technology, countries are also looking for new designs, that can be easily integrated into cities and installed in pre existing public spaces.
Now, Israeli company Sologic believes they have an innovative solution. Called the eTree, their new device is a solar powered tree which provides power and services to the community. Whereas normal trees use photosynthesis in their leaves to convert solar radiation (light) into chemical energy while consuming CO2 and emitting oxygen, the eTree has leaves made of solar panels, converting sunlight directly into electricity.
The eTree itself looks a lot like a tree as rendered in an early, low graphics computer game (or maybe Mincraft). Its leaves are made from small square photovoltaic cells, while its ‘trunk’ is a angular brown metal structure. The electricity generated by the eTree is used to power several functions. These include nighttime lighting, USB charging, cold water dispensing and free WiFi.
In addition to these base services, the eTree is designed as an object which encourages social interaction. Underneath its shady solar leaves, it features an array of benches where people can sit and chat with one another. Also, the eTree has a built-in LCD screen and camera which can be used to communicate with other people sitting at other eTrees using a specialised piece of software.
The first eTrees have already been installed in the HaNadiv Gardens near Zikhron Ya’akov in Israel, however the company has plans to also install these trees further afield in both Europe and China. While these trees alone might never be able to fully replace grid-based power, they represent they way that solar power is proliferating within the community, in a distributed manner, reducing the overall demand for non-renewable baseload power. It is growing ever more likely that this distributed solar power, combined with improved battery technology, will be what powers our lives into the future.
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