Once just a fantasy, solar trees are beginning to catch on, both for their beauty and genuine utility as a way around anti-solar NIMBYism.
I first discussed the idea of solar trees a couple of years ago at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. I was sitting with some executives from Hanwha solar, one of the companies involved in our VISION House show home at Epcot. Their eyes lit up at the idea, as if we had just created something utterly new.
Since then, solar trees seem to be popping up everywhere, so I guess the idea wasn't as original as we thought..or maybe we were simply tapping the Zeitgeist at the perfect moment. One tree in particular caught my eye however--the one shown in the image above, from Bristol, England. The designer, a sculptor and metal worker named John Packer, made his own documentary about the project.
Solar trees are as much symbol as practicality. They make solar fun, friendly and accessible. If you've seen any other exceptional designs for these new forms of practical sculpture, please post them in the comments section!--Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief