Solar Tree Lights Up The Streets

On October 8th 2007, the innovative Solar Tree project was presented for the first time in front of “MAK” Museum of Applied and Contemporary Arts in Vienna, Austria. This urban lighting project was produced and developed by the Artemide and Sharp Solar companies. The solar tree, designed by MAK’s Ross Lovegrove, absorbs solar energy during the day and emits light in the nighttime. Using solar cells technology to light the streets is not only efficient but also environmentally friendly and economical, as it decreases electricity expenses.

Artemide, a leading Italian firm specializing in innovative lighting fixtures, joined forces in this project with Sharp Solar, a global leader in solar cells technology, which has been developing solar cells since 1959. Ernesto Gismondi, President of Artemide, explained that the company has been “Respecting life, environment and all the natural resources available means facing the energy saving issue in a very serious way.”

The solar tree is made of several steel pipes, each supporting a lamp. Each solar lamp is composed of 38 advanced solar cells that are connected to a battery system and to an electronic device hidden in the tree’s base. The lighting  is based on highly efficient Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology.

Ross Lovegrove, who designed the tree, commented that “Solar Tree represents the DNA of our time and it also shows it is possible to create beautiful things using the most advanced technology”. Following the great success if the project in Vienna, the solar tree arrived in Italy in November and was located at Piazza della Scala, one of the most prestigious squares in the heart of Milan.

TFOT has covered several devices that exploit solar energy, including “Pebble” – a solar food heater concept created by French design student Laura Pandelle, Zephyr – a 30kg solar-powered unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that completed a 54-hour flight in late August 2007 and holds the world record for the longest-duration unmanned flight, “tandem” – a new organic solar cell with increased efficiency, and SAUV II – a solar-powered autonomous underwater vehicle for undersea observation and water monitoring.

More information on the Solar Tree is available on Artemide’s website.