Solar Botanic, a UK based renewable energy developer has announced a plan to harvest wind and solar power using artificial trees placed along highways. The company will use a technology known as biomimicry to create what are called Energy Harvesting Trees (EHT). Biomimicry is an emerging science that attempts to use nature’s processes to solve human problems. In a press release dated March 23, 2009 the company claims that this technology has the potential to create 350,000 kWh per year for each kilometer of roadway fitted with the EHTs. This is enough electricity to power approximately 60 average size houses. An additional benefit is that each kilometer of installed EHTs will eliminate 500 tons of CO2 that would be released into the atmosphere by generating the same amount of power burning fossil fuels. A single EHT can produce between 200 to 12,000 kWh depending on its size and location.
EHTs convert light, heat and wind power to generate clean electricity. This is done by fitting the artificial trees with Solar Botanic’s patented Nanoleaves. These are a combination of Nano photovoltaic, Nanothermovoltaic and Nanopiezo generators which turn light, heat and wind energy respectively into green electricity. These trees are more visually pleasing than wind turbines or solar collectors and have no negative impact on the environment or ecosystems. The versatile Nanoleaves, generating power from movement as well as light, will also produce energy when moved by falling raindrops, making these devices usable in all weather conditions.
Solar Botanic has designs suited to business, civic and home use. Other suggested applications are to power and cool desert areas to allow hydroponic growing of fruits and vegetables and conversely to enable growth in cold areas by providing inexpensive heat and power. Individual homes will be able to benefit with one average size tree with a canopy of six square meters providing for its power needs. Energy harvesting shrubs are also being developed for use in smaller applications. This is a promising technology that may spur on renewable energy generation by removing some of the aesthetic and environmental concerns inherent in current production methods.
Filed Under: Technology & Science