All the acclaim afforded to Ross Lovegrove's solar tree lighting in Vienna, Austria has made this TreeHugger turn a little parochial. 'Coz, you see, that country with the confusingly similar name; Australia, already had gorgeous and fully functioning solar trees way back in September 2005. Known as the Solar Mallee Trees, (more pics below) because they bear a visual association to their tough eucalyptus namesake.
"Each of the solar trees produces an average of 864 kWh per annum but uses only 125 kWh of energy, returning excess energy generated to the power grid. That saves about two tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year and is the equivalent of planting six 'real' trees every year." Said a state minister PDF, when she unveiled them just before the arrival of the photovolatic cars in the 2005 World Solar Challenge.
The Solar Mallee Trees as designed by local architects Materne Pennino Hoare
We did refer to Adelaide's solar trees in passing, a couple years ago, when discussing the South Australian capital's win in the Solar Cities grant. But the Solar Mallee Trees are no mere affectation. In the city precinct where they appear, photovolatic panels have also been installed on the nearby Parliament House, South Australian Museum, Art Gallery and the State Library.
Plus the trees as part of the Green City project have spawn a dozen single solar street lights, with similar curvaceous looks. These feed electricity into the grid during the day and drawn some back at night for lighting. But they generate about 100kWh more electricity than what they use each year, making them greenhouse neutral.
NB: We'll cover Adelaide's wind power program in another post.