Solar trees are taking root around the world
Sologic’s sustainable eTree provides free WiFi, a cold drink and more.
Imagine hiking on a path knowing there’s a tree that will put you in touch with the world.
The Sologic eTree is a public space made from 100 percent sustainable materials, that provides rest, shade, free WiFi and a place to cool your water.
“The eTree is like a tent open on all sides and gives without asking for anything. It says come, sit down in the shade, and provides solar energy for cooling water, charging your batteries, and connects you to the universe with WiFi,” Israeli entrepreneur Michael Lasry told From the Grapevine.
Lasry said its distinctive design is based on the southern Israeli acacia, a species of desert tree that grows near pockets of underground water and can provide ample shade.
To mimic the acacia’s relationship with water, one of the eTree’s chief functions is a fountain that uses solar energy to cool water for anyone passing by. Dew and runoff from the fountain collect in a basin, acting as a water trough for animals.
The concept for eTree came from Lasry's work on residential solar panel systems. But as consumer costs skyrocketed, he quickly realized more people would benefit from these services if they were placed in public spaces, like parks and museums.
The sculptures are designed to be placed anywhere worldwide, providing energy in even the harshest weather conditions, from 100-mph winds to several inches of snow.
Its only requirements are to be near an urban center with a connection to drinkable water.
“We toyed with the idea of generating water from the air [atmospheric generation] but realized all the energy will go to producing water and we’d only get 20 liters a day. For now, the tree has to be in an urban area accessible to water, but if in the future we decide to create water from air, the technology exists,” Lasry said.
Since free electricity and water tend to bring people together, one of eTree’s missions is to connect each tree’s community through a special monitoring system. The plan is to install a camera and microphone under each tree to display historical and geographical data about their location, and to allow people worldwide to speak to and see each other.
And, if you’re wondering how eTree’s solar energy ranges from one climate to another, it all comes down to reserve power. eTree will always have enough energy for its applications, regardless of location. In warmer climates, high reserves of stored energy could be channeled back on the grid for use in cooler, less sunny locations. Sologic is also trying to divert these reserves for other kinds of uses in development, such as a small compressor for filling bicycle tires.
Meanwhile, eTree is set to be "planted" in Nice, France, by the end of the year, and other cities are making arrangements for their own. Though similar trees exist in places like Atlanta and Holland, eTree is the first to give all its solar energy directly back to the customer.
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