Envision Solar Trees as Energy Stations?

Envision Solar

As you can see above and below, Envision Solar plans to make parking lots into beautiful power plants with their Solar Groves and Solar Trees.  Envision Solar takes the hassle out of designing structures for solar with their turn-key solutions.  Although the company is working on a next generation design for the Solar Tree, the current iteration includes 64 Kyocera solar modules laid out in total measuring 30' x 40'.  The panels sit at a five degree angle and provide shading for six vehicles, too.  Envision Solar has found success installing these parking canopies near commercial buildings and retail parking lots because the energy can be sold to businesses through power purchase agreements. 

What's interesting, though, is what our country would be like with Solar Groves all over the place.  With plug-in electric vehicles and plug-in slots near Solar Trees, parking lots could be the transportation energy stations of the future.  Electric vehicles wouldn't be nearly as bad as they are right now if they're getting the bulk of their power from renewable sources. 

As far as costs are concerned, Envision Solar seems to be aggressive in their pursuit of good deals.  Depending on site conditions, the company says a good Solar Grove could pay for itself in five years.  That's quite good — so I expect we'll hear a lot more from Envision Solar going forward. 

[+] Learn more about Envision Solar's products

Solar Parking Lot

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Photo credits: Envision Solar.


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  • Bret E Presse

    I wonder how they’ll hold up when kids jump all over them and shove chewing gum into the plug-in slots?
    Vandalism is likely to put paid to this idea (well, in the UK anyway)

  • Robert Cox

    Wow, Bret. You have amazing insight. We call those who think like you Republicans in the US.

  • http://www.jetsongreen.com Preston

    @Bret – yeah, I’m not too sure the things you mention will be problems inherent to these Solar Trees. Those trees are solid.

  • http://www.davisframe.com Reid

    Great post and information, thank you for sharing! Our timber frame home company has been looking for a larger-scale solar solution on some of the commercial projects we do for a while and Envision Solar might be a good starting point. I’ll give the a buzz and found out!

    Do you know if they have smaller operations for residential use? We have a lot of clients who are interested in carports and this might be a good added value as well. Great stuff…!

    Thanks again for posting this!
    Reid
    Davis Frame Company
    http://www.davisframe.com

    http://www.timberframeblog.com

  • http://www.jetsongreen.com Preston

    @Reid – they sure do. That would be their LifePort and LifePod product. Same Envision Solar innovation but more on a residential scale. Give it a look.

  • http://www.envisionsolar.com Pamela Stevens

    Thanks for the support, all! We are trying to add function to solar panels and we feel strongly that by re-foresting those hot, ugly surface parking lots with Solar Trees(TM), we can grow clean energy.

    I appreciate the comment about durability…someone thinks the way we do! Our designers and architects have spent years on their designs, ensuring the metal is treated in such a way that it resists graffitti and rust, and that the “trunk” of the Solar Tree(TM) resists vehicle “operator error” by serving essentially as a bollard.

    One more thing before final thanks, I hope you all let the car manufacturers know that when they design plug-in electric vehicles we as consumers will demand that they do so in a way to ensure that the energy consumed by those vehicles is CLEAN. Most of the utilities and auto manufacturers believe that they need to beef up the infrastructure to support future electric vehicle use by increasing oil production! We all need to see that that does not happen…just remind them that clean electricity grows on SolarTrees(TM), and there is no need to put these cars on the grid!

    Cheers!

  • Luis Dias

    This idea is idiotic.

    Not the solar trees, nor the use of parking lots to make solar power stations. I’m ok with that.

    But the notion that plug-in EV cars will be charged in these stations is ludidrous and an utter lie. An electric car spends huge amounts of power that even a single tree like this wouldn’t be able to power it up, forget about charging the 8 cars that fit in below it!

    And to anyone who instead of giving me math evidence that I’m wrong simply states that I’m a “republican” or some other idiotic ad hominem, grow up.

  • Nicholas Peterson

    I would have to disagree with the above comment. I believe the current configuration generates at peak, 150-200 watts per panel. Multiplying that by 64 comes to 12.8 kilowatts. That is per every set of solar panels in that picture, which looks to be 20. 20 * 12.8kW = 256 kilowatts. I’ve heard of arrays that are only 5.5 kw generating about 19 kilowatt hours a day. So these would clock in near or over 800 kwH. A Tesla Roadster uses about 53kwH on a full charge. So you could recharge (FULLY!) about 16 of those. Now assume most of these people will just be driving to an area, charging for a bit then leaving, it might translate to over 100 cars. This is largely irrelevant math however, since by the time these would likely become more than a novelty idea the panels will be many times more efficient. Then the typical numbers of a few hundred customers a day becomes more reasonable.

  • cannon

    i’m thinking that it would be great to go to your local big box store and not have to load your purchase in the rain or blazing heat.
    the fact that the store is using the electricity produced by the parking lot shading to reduce it’s electricity bill(hopefully passing that savings along to me as lower prices)and carbon footprint are just added benifits.
    how many “big box” stores are there, how many acres of parking lot do they control, how much electricity could this land produce, and how many barrels of oil would that replace?? seems like more than a good idea to me.

  • Luis Dias

    Nicholas, thanks for your math. It is terribly wrong. Imagine that at you have 30% efficiency of solar panels. I’m being amazingly optimistic here. Now imagine 8h uninterrupted of 1000w solar power. I’m being overtly generous here too. Nevermind cloudy days, I’m taking to account the sunniest day on earth (you should remember that only the hours near mid-noon are approximate to the maximum power). Area below a single car is roughly 12 square meters. 8x1000x12x0,30= 29kwh per day. That’s HALF of what is required to the tesla.

    And I took to account technology which isn’t even available now. Even if you are able to get 100% efficiency, you can hardly charge two teslas in the sunniest day on earth.

    Dream on. And learn maths.

  • http://www.jetsongreen.com Preston

    @Luis Dias – you can’t tell people to learn math if you should learn grammar. Quit trolling and just express your points.

  • KevinT

    Although this is now several weeks old, the point being made by Nicholas is that the panels don’t need to be able to fully charge the cars parked underneath them. With the exception of store employees, most people won’t be parked for more than 30-60min at a time anyways. But since every little bit helps even partially charging the batteries of the cars parked underneath would be of benefit. Not to mention the shade would keep the cars cool during sunny days reducing the amount of cooling needed from the AC to get the interior of the car comfortable once the owner is ready to leave the lot, again providing a small benefit that adds up when you are talking long term and millions of cars.

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