To generate one megawatt (MW) of power, five acres of land is required, and for 10,000 MW, India would need around 50,000 acres. To solve this problem, the Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute (CMERI), Durgapur, has designed a solar power tree that takes up only 4 square feet (sq ft) of space and produces about three kilowatt (kW) of power, which is enough to power five households. It takes up only 1 per cent of space consumed by conventional systems.
The solar tree holds the panels at a higher height, thereby getting more sun (by one hour) in a day in comparison to that of conventional layout on ground. This could also be rotated so that the photovoltaic panel gets more sunlight. Thus, it is possible to harness 10-15 per cent more power.
The 3-kW solar power tree resembles a tree with branches at different tiers. It could be squeezed on a rooftop and highwats with a space requirement of around 4 sq ft. The branches hold up the 30 photovoltaic panels and the system costs around Rs 3 lakh with battery back-up. Considered an intervention against land constraints, the solar tree has the potential to solve the problem of energy crisis in India.
Features of a solar tree
- Gives 100 times more solar power compared to conventional SPV layout – consumes 1 per cent of land surface for same power.
- Holds the panels at a higher height – gets more sun.
- Can be facilitated with water sprinkler at the top of the SPT.
- Even the paddy lands, agro-gardens, roads or parks can be utilized for production of megawatts of solar power without hampering any cultivation work.
- Can produce 25 to 30 per cent more power as because – all panels may be rotated by 180-degree in the afternoon and morning towards the east and the west by an easy mechanism.
Design parameters include capacity / requirement of power (KWp), height of SPT, size and numbers of panels, wind pressures, steps of branches, phyllotaxi pattern of panels, orientation of panels, maintaining tilt-angle, system of tracker incorporation and circuit layout for final output (voltage and current) from SPT on- and off-grid system.