Indian Scientists Design Solar Tree to Save on Space


When it comes to affordable power, solar is the future. However, as early adopters of solar power already know, solar panels take up a fair amount of space. For homes ranging from off the grid homesteads all the way to suburban dream homes, it is not much of an issue, but what about in areas that are so short on space that they have to build up instead of out like most cities? It seems that scientists in India may have found the answer: Solar trees.

The solar tree consists of several steel branches with photovoltaic panels placed at different levels so one panel does not obscure any others, allowing all branches on the tree to get adequate sun to produce energy. In fact, the panel placement on solar trees has been found to harness as much as 15 percent more energy than regular rooftop panels. That is around the equivalent of one more hour of power compared to conventional solar power means. This new design could be just the thing to help areas like the overcrowded India to embrace solar power without a large amount of space needed for solar parks.

Daljit Singh Bedi, chief scientist at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in New Delhi, the company responsible for developing the solar tree states, “It takes about four-square meters of space to produce energy which otherwise would have required 400 square meters of space. So almost 100 times the space is saved, which as you know is very valuable.”

India already has to deal with protests of displaced people when land is acquired to build new roads, factories, and other infrastructure. With these protests occasionally turning violent, the less people who are moved for solar power will mean a smoother transition to it overall.


But how powerful is a solar tree? The scientists who designed it estimate that the energy generated by a solar tree would be powerful enough to light up five homes, which in the urban setting of many of India’s cities is not a lot, but they are compact enough to fit many in a small area. Not only would these solar trees make it easier for cities to power street lights, but they would also make an affordable alternative in rural communities where farmers are unwilling to sacrifice large tracts of farmland.

This big step towards solar power in India is all part of their widespread plan to reduce carbon emissions in the country. As the third largest producer in the world, their plan to reduce their carbon emissions by one-third by 2030 relies heavily on moving towards solar power and away from coal-based energy, a smart move considering that aside from seasonal rains, the country is awash in sunlight.


Regardless, by embracing solar power, it will make energy more affordable to the Indian people as well. If solar trees turn out to be the lynch pin in their new solar plan, they could be embraced worldwide, especially considering that many areas around the world neglect solar power because, like India, they have a shortage of available land. Can you imagine the skyscrapers in New York City or Los Angeles lined with tall solar trees? Or better yet, clearing up some land on your off the grid homestead by condensing all your solar needs into one compact tree?

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