By Evan Ackerman
I love Europe in that special way only someone who’s lived exclusively in the United States for 25-odd years really can. Yet another fabulous reason to love Europe are these solar powered light trees, spotted last October in Vienna (as well as in Milan in November and December). Designed by Ross Lovegrove, each tree has 10 branches, and each branch has a solar cell (artemide polycrystalline solar cells by Sharp) “petal” on top. During the day, the petals charge built-in batteries, and as soon as the sun goes down, LEDs under the petals light up, providing efficient and cost effective street lighting, especially since the installation costs are minimal (no wiring necessary). The trees are able to provide light even after several consecutive cloudy days, although there aren’t any specifics on how much power the panels generate. More pics and info after the jump.
Apparently (insert grain of salt here), Europe spends 10% (!) of all the electricity it produces on street lighting, amounting to two trillion kilowatt-hours and 2.9 billion tons of CO2. It’s therefore understandable that cities would be bullish on free lights, and Vienna is currently in the process of deciding whether or not to replace their conventional streetlights with solar trees.
I just wish they would make them a little more… less ugly. Maybe something more like this, perhaps?