- City of Melbourne
The solar tree evolved from a challenge by the Sustainable Living Festival (SLF) to the City of Melbourne to develop an innovative structure that could harness solar energy in a very practical way. The City of Melbourne’s industrial design team responded with the idea of a transportable solar tree.
The tree harnesses the solar energy from the sun via its ‘canopy’ in the form of LED chips are a light emitting diode. The LEADSUN Solar panels have an integrated lithium battery with an LED light on the opposite side to the solar panel. The solar panels collectively are 150W. Each panel is 50W and the energy captured charges a 230Watt/Hour battery. This allows for streamline installation without the need for a battery box. At dusk the inbuilt PE cell determines that it is night time as it stops producing power and illuminates the light battery.
The City of Melbourne has an ambitious target to become a carbon neutral city by 2020. By demonstrating we can light cities with solar energy, we reduce our reliance on the carbon-intensive electricity grid. The tree will set a new benchmark in sustainable design and therefore contribute to a more sustainable future. It provides the community with a place to rest, recharge and promotes a positive social impact, ensuring our public spaces are safe, vibrant and well-connected.
The solar tree and the technology used has transformed the way we look at lighting the city. The design will now become part of the City of Melbourne\’s design standards that help to inform the design and construction in our public spaces.
The design team was able to modify an earlier prototype of the solar tree. After an intensive three day redesign session, the end result was a structure incorporating solar energy technology in its ‘branches’, which funnels down into a single tree trunk-like pillar. The designers added in additional features, such as phone charging portals, which made the solar tree truly unique. Beneath the solar panelled branches, LED lights were positioned to light the ground below. At the base of the tree, a wooden seat made from recycled wood which was reclaimed from removed aging tree stock, completed the design.
A key feature is the transportability of the structure and its ease of integration within parkland, without the need of digging and trenching for cabling. The solar tree makes a perfect addition to public spaces and pop up parks.
Phone charging sockets were incorporated so passers-by can stop and enjoy a new take on the ‘urban forest’ while re-charging their phones.
The tree was a temporary installation at this year’s Sustainability Living Festival and during Melbourne Knowledge Week 2018.