All this talk of ‘more chargers’ begs the question of where we are going to put them all?
Understandably, there are some countries that have land available for mass adoption of sustainable energy solutions, such as wind turbine installations and solar farms. But, to use space more effectively, the EV charging industry may just have to get more creative with where it puts its plugs, and how it goes about doing so.
More charging hubs are popping up across the globe, particularly in more developed areas of the world, where ICE car sales will cease in 2030. But, as attractive as organisations make their chargers, who really wants to look at all that infrastructure?
Biomimicry could be one answer to this.
The design and production of materials, structures, and systems that are modelled on biological entities and processes.
Who better to share insights on this than the championships of biomimicry in the charging and infrastructure sector, SolarBotanic Trees, which—you guessed it—share a relative resemblance to the most mature of plants.
What is the SolarBotanic Tree?
A nature-mimicking solution to sustainable energy, SolarBotanic Trees is developing futuristic solutions that, though ornamental in public, represent biomimicry in local power. Producing solar power for homes, cars, and energy storage systems, SolarBotanic Trees is working to build infrastructure that looks as near to life as possible.
We see the company revolutionising the home and commercial microgrid, making off-grid energy more achievable and more attractive. By leveraging nature’s intrinsic design, each tree reduces the ground cover of clean energy infrastructure, fulfilling the firm’s dedication to creating inconspicuous solutions for use anywhere.
The organisation partners with leading technology research and development teams: the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC); Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC); Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC); and Brunel University London.
An interview with SolarBotanic Trees
Not only does the SolarBotanic Tree showcase a revolutionary design, leveraging solar-power technologies and minimising ground space of EV charging hubs, but it also shows that, in the era of rapidly advancing technology, organisations can look outside of the box to find sustainable solutions within nature’s imagery and design.
To understand more about the idea, we spoke to Harry Corrigan (HC), Executive Chairman of SolarBotanic Trees, whose role is to oversee the research and development around the charging concept.
TS - “Tell me more about SolarBotanic Trees and the solution it’s developing.”
HC - “The SolarBotanic Tree as a product concept was devised over seven years ago, designed in collaboration with potential customers, architects, and suppliers to ensure an aesthetically attractive, functional, and affordable alternative to conventional solar panels.
“The tree has been developed in collaboration with Co-Innovate—a business support programme that supports SMEs in London by using academic and innovation resources at Brunel University London, the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry, and the AMRC’s Design and Prototyping Group, who will be conducting the prototype testing."
TS - “How do you see the solution scaling in line with EV industry growth?”
HC - “EV charging infrastructure is 20 years behind schedule. According to the Times, there is now one for every 30 EVs compared with 16 in 2020.
“The Government target of installing 300,000 EV charge points by 2030 looks to be wildly optimistic, at best. With that same situation globally, we will target areas that require both solar energy and aesthetic value so that people will see the tree as a symbol of a clean environment.
“We believe that the interest in EVs and the SolarBotanic Tree will be synonymous with helping the environment.”
TS - “Who will use the SolarBotanic Tree?”
HC - “This first-generation SolarBotanic Tree will eventually spawn a family of products. These initial products will be primarily aimed at the rapid electric vehicle charging market for homes, businesses and commercial car parks, where solar power can be captured and stored for charging points.
“It will also encompass a sophisticated, AI-driven energy storage and power management system (PMS), where trees can be linked and form part of a local grid or feed into the main grid—essential to optimise an increasingly electrified future.”
TS - “Why aren’t other businesses developing solar trees?”
HC - “The solar industry is well entrenched and there is still a long way to go before rooftop solar has reached capacity. Having said that, we believe that once people see our tree, it will inspire many imitators and this is good for the planet.”
TS - “So you believe this project will pave the way for more solutions that mimic the natural environment?”
HC - “Biomimicry taught us many things such as Velcro and the design of the Japanese bullet train engine, to mention just two.
“At SolarBotanic Trees, we believe that, within a short period, we will develop a tree that resembles a real tree, that is as realistic looking as a bunch of artificial flowers, and will produce energy from the sun and wind.”
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