Indian scientists from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CISR) laboratory in Kolkata have designed a ‘solar tree’ that they hope will help overcome a key challenge the country faces in the generation of solar power.
With photovoltaic panels placed at different levels on branches made of steel ‘solar trees’ could reduce the amount of land needed to develop solar parks.
Daljit Singh Bedi, chief scientist at the CISR in Delhi said it takes about four-square meters of space to produce energy, which would otherwise require 400 sq meters of space.
Scientists estimate the energy generated by a solar tree would be enough to light up five homes, and the tree would make it easier to increase solar power generation to light up homes and streets in cities and in rural areas, where farmers are unwilling to give up large tracts of land for solar panel installations. The solar tree will also harness more energy compared to rooftop panels.
India’s pledge to reduce its carbon emissions, that was made at the UN Conference on Climate Change in Paris last year, relies heavily on increasing the generation of solar energy. To achieve this India has set an ambitious target of generating 40 percent of its total capacity from renewables by 2030 and also reducing its reliance on polluting coal-based thermal energy.
While the falling cost of photovoltaic panels has made solar power more viable and investment has been flowing into the growing sector, worries remain about acquiring large tracts of land to set up solar parks.
Amit Kumar at the Energy and Resources Institute, Delhi, says solar trees could provide a sustainable option but innovations on solar power have so far not made much headway.