Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Energy Harvesting Trees, electricity producing jacket - Are we there?

Just imagine, a lane of trees along the road side. Performing all the usual functions of a tree like desalinating water, preventing soil erosion, providing shade and protetion from wind, but here's the interesting part - they also convert sunlight to clean electricity.  Sounds like a dream?

Solar Botanic Renewable Energy systems (  states that the foundation of the idea lies in the concept of Bio-Mimicry, where engineers (Bioneers) try to imitate the best designs in nature to solve our design challenges (

They state that they already have the technology (patents attained and pending) to accomplish this. The concept relies on what they call 'Nano leaves' supported by photovoltaic thermovoltaic, and piezovoltaic technology. Further, this can be used to convert the kinetic energy from wind into more clean electricity. The company goes on to claim that their residential solutions will offer 50% more power than the conventional solar systems. 

To me, the concept seems years away from hitting the ground, but the concept of merging the latest in solar electricy technologies with bio-mimicry sure captures imagination.

Recently, Fortune magazine wrote about Konarka Technologies'  ( research in the solar electricity technologies. The ideas like a jacket capable of charging your phone while you are out in the sun might be closer to reality than we think

1 comment:

Abhinav Sharma said...

This is great and sounds good! However their are many problems:
1.) Time frame for technology development: Though promising, and as u mentioned I dont think this technology will fully develop in the near future. May be a decade, as it sound complicated. (As it is just theorectical even though a patent is filed.)
2.) Cost of single unit(tree): Thinking of the no.of trees along the road, its gonna be millions. Even if they are in mass production, this is definately going to be cost intensive.
3.) Private sector interference or something from stimulus package: I think some part of the stimulus for R&D should be diverted to this technology as the returns are promising. Would the private sector show some interest??

We will have to wait and watch how it comes as the time progresses!