Xabier Pérez de Arenaza, a Spanish architect with a passion for renewable energy, recently released the second iteration of his Urban Tree Project. The new and improved solar tree includes displays a sleeker, more artistic design, while also offering advanced functionality.
Arenaza’s original Urban Tree design was a finalist in the “Plan Solar de Navarra” competition. The idea mimics the natural workings of a tree’s roots, trunk, branches, leaves and fruits. Each element performs a function vital to the tree’s existence. With the Urban Tree concept, a tree’s leaves are replaced by photovoltaic panels, the fruit is replaced by the specific element to be powered, and the branches and trunk contain wiring and other electrical components.
In the latest re-design, the uTree creates an urban-appropriate solar array that would be able to provide renewable energy for different uses such as lighting, traffic lights, termometer, outdoor clocks, etc. Each leaf would contain approximately 77 solar cells, and would feature a rotation engine that would allow the leaves to follow the sun throughout the day, thus maximizing power generation.
“If necessary, the uTree can also work in an autonomous way, storing energy in a battery to use it later or when there’s no sun. This type of element has big advantages in rural areas or in mountains, where the the installation of the electrical grid is difficult and expensive,” writes Arenaza on Behance.net.
Solar trees have become a popular concept among solar companies and designers, although none may be quite as aesthetically pleasing as the uTree. Last summer we brought you news of Envision Solar’s mini-tree, designed to both shade and charge electric vehicles. And before that, there was this weird piece of renewable energy art designed to promote tourism in Canada.
Although it was recently presented in Madrid at the IE business school, Arenaza’s uTree concept has yet to be tested in a practical setting.