Indian scientists have designed a new device they hope will solve one of
the biggest problems with the use of solar energy.
They call the device a solar tree.
Solar trees have metal “branches” extending from a tall, central pole at
different levels. Each branch holds a photovoltaic panel, also called a
solar panel. These panels are flat surfaces that collect energy from the
sun and turn it into electricity.
A picture from above of one of the devices called a “solar tree.”
Daljit Singh Bedi is the chief scientist at the Council of Scientific
and Industrial Research, or CSIR, in New Delhi, India. The CSIR
laboratories are where the solar tree was designed.
Daljit Singh Bedi
Bedi says the shape of the solar trees makes it possible to fit more
photovoltaic panels in a space than traditional systems do. This means
less land would be needed to produce solar energy.
“It takes about four-square meters of space to produce energy which
otherwise would have required 400 square meters of space,” he says. “So
almost 100 times the space is saved, which as you know is very
Buying land to develop roads, factories and other infrastructure has
been a disputed issue in India. Disagreements often lead to protests by
those forced to move. Some of the protests have turned violent.
Scientists believe the energy a solar tree collects will be enough to
power five homes. The space-saving tree will make it easier to provide
solar energy to homes in cities, they say. The trees will also take less
space from farmers in rural areas.
Bedi says solar trees will collect more energy than normal photovoltaic
panels on the tops of buildings.
“This design, it facilitates placement of solar panels in a way that
they are exposed more towards the sun, ” he says. “And that way they are
able to harness 10 to 15 percent more energy.”
India is the world’s third largest producer of greenhouse gases. The
country promised to reduce its rate of greenhouse gas production at the
United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris last year. India
said, by 2030, it would reduce its rate of greenhouse gas production by
one third over its levels in 2005.
The country’s promise depends heavily on increasing solar energy. India
has set a difficult goal of getting 40 percent of its total energy from
renewable sources by 2030. It also plans to reduce its use of coal.
The cost of photovoltaic panels has gone down in recent years. This has
made solar power cheaper and easier to use. But, some people worry about
the need to buy large areas of land for traditional solar energy
Amit Kumar is the senior director of the Energy and Resources Institute
in New Delhi. The institute studies development in India and countries
in the southern half of the world. Kumar says gaining access to land
takes time and increases costs.
Amit Kumar是华盛顿(New Delhi)财富与能源钻探所(the Energy and Resources
He adds that it is still not clear how useful these new developments in
solar power technology are.
“[Only when] we put those [trees] on a large scale … will we be
able to get that answer,” he says.