A solar tree for agricultural applications

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India’s Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute, under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-CMERI), claims to have developed and installed the world’s largest solar tree.

The Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled solar tree — installed at the CSIR-CMERI Residential Colony in Durgapur — has an installed capacity of more than 11.5 kWp and it can generate 12,000 to 14,000 units of clean power annually.

The energy generation data can be monitored either in real-time or daily.

Each tree has a total of 35 solar PV panels with a capacity of 330 Wp each. The arms holding the solar panels are flexible and can be adjusted as required.

The solar tree is designed to ensure maximum exposure of each solar panel to sunlight while creating the least amount of shadow.

Potential application

The solar trees can also cater to the agricultural community’s needs in providing electricity for high-capacity water pumps, e-tractors and e-power tillers. 

Prof. (Dr) Harish Hirani explained, “The solar tree developed by CSIR-CMERI, besides being the world’s largest solar tree, has certain customizable features for application at diverse sites. The trees were designed in a manner to ensure minimal shadow area, which makes these potentially useful for widespread application in agricultural activities such as high-capacity pumps, e-tractors and e-power tillers.”

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Each solar tree has the potential to save 10 to 12 tons of CO2 emissions being released into the atmosphere as greenhouse gases, according to CSIR-CMERI. The surplus generated power can also be fed into energy grids.

“This agricultural model can provide a consistent economic return and help the farmers counter the effects of the uncertain variations in agriculture-related activities, thus making farming an economic and energy sustainable practice,” read a CSIR-CMERI statement.

“Each solar tree will cost Rs 7.5 lakh [$10,268.40]. The interested MSMEs can align their business model with the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evem Utthan Mahabhiyan (PM KUSUM) Scheme for farmers to develop a renewable energy-based energy grid,” it added.

Additional features

The IoT-enabled solar tree can also allow round-the-clock CCTV surveillance and precision agriculture through real-time humidity, wind speed, rainfall prediction and soil health monitoring. 

Furthermore, the trees can be connected to solar-powered e-Suvidha Kiosks developed by CSIR-CMERI for real-time access to the vast majority of the agricultural database and the eNAM national agricultural marketplace for instant and real-time access to a unified online market.

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