Solar panels seem to be the only successful method of tapping the sun for practical purposes but these consume vast amount of land surface. Given land availability constraints, solar power trees are the perfect solution as these take up only 1% of the space consumed by conventional systems.
Going a step further, a rotating solar power tree—developed by the Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-CMERI)—auto-tracks the sun while occupying minimal land space.
The tree rotates on its axis with all the solar panels together, generating 10-15% extra power from the sun. Rotation is given to the solar panels by rotating the trunk of the tree from its root and also by manually.
In fact, “it can produce 25% to 30% more power as all the panels may be rotated by 180⁰ in the afternoon and morning towards the east and the west by an easy mechanism,” according to CSIR-CMERI.
Panels held at a greater height means more sun is available. Further, the tree can be fitted with a water sprinkler at the top.
“Even the paddy lands, agro-gardens, roads or parks can be utilized for production of megawatts of solar power without hampering any cultivation work”—according to CSIR-CMERI.
“It gives 100 times more solar power than conventional solar PV layout while consuming 1% of the land surface for the same power.”
Main components of the solar power tree include structural steel pipes, solar panels, inverter, batteries and necessary wirings.
The technology has already been licensed to four Indian industries.