A solar tree is a structure where solar modules are planted on a single pillar, which looks like a tree trunk. It serves the dual purpose of being an artwork and an energy generator.
The solar tree has been installed at the CSIR-CMERI Residential Colony, Durgapur. Each solar tree will cost ₹750,000 (~$9,595). In all, there are 35 solar photovoltaic (PV) modules in each tree with a capacity of 330 W each. The tree is designed to ensure maximum sunlight exposure for each PV module while creating the least amount of shadow beneath.
Dr. Harish Hirani, Director of CSIR-CMERI, stated that “The installed capacity of the solar tree is above 11.5 kW with an annual capacity to generate 12,000-14,000 kWh of clean power. The energy generated can be monitored either in real-time or daily.”
The inclination of the arms holding the PV modules are flexible and can be adjusted- a feature which is not available in rooftop solar systems.
Dr. Hirani further explained, “The CSIR-CMERI developed solar tree, besides being the world’s largest solar tree, also has certain customizable features for application at diverse sites. The solar trees were designed in a manner to ensure minimum shadow area, potentially making these solar trees available for widespread usage in agricultural activities such as high capacity pumps, e-tractors, and e-power tillers.”
The solar trees can be aligned with agriculture for substituting price-volatile fossil fuels. Each solar tree has the potential to save 10-12 tons of carbon emissions when compared with fossil fuel, and the surplus power generated can be fed to the power grid.
The solar tree has capabilities to adapt a bevy of Internet of Things (IoT)-based features, such as round-the-clock CCTV surveillance in agricultural fields, real-time humidity, wind speed, rainfall prediction, and soil analytics sensors.
For developing a renewable energy-based grid, interested micro, small, and medium enterprises can align their business models with the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthan Mahabhiyan (PM KUSUM) program for farmers.
The KUSUM program is expected to help Indian farmers by providing them financial and water security through the mobilization of solar projects and solar-powered water pumps. The program has been divided into three components and aims to add a solar capacity of 25,750 MW by 2022.
The solar tree can also be connected to CSIR-CMERI’s solar-powered e-suvidha kiosks for real-time access to the massive agricultural database, as well as to the eNAM (National Agricultural Marketplace) for instant and real-time access to a unified online market.
Mercom had earlier reported that the Chhattisgarh State Renewable Energy Development Agency issued two tenders for the supply and installation of 5,000 small solar irrigation pumps and 700 solar trees in the state.
Image credit: PIB
Rahul is a staff reporter at Mercom India. Before entering the world of renewables, Rahul was head of the Gujarat bureau for The Quint. He has also worked for DNA Ahmedabad and Ahmedabad Mirror. Hailing from a banking and finance background, Rahul has also worked for JP Morgan Chase and State Bank of India. More articles from Rahul Nair.