Ever seen a solar panel that followed the sun’s movement? Neither have we. But that’s not stopping General Motors from installing a Tracking Solar Tree — pretty much a giant solar panel on an axis — at its Milford Proving Grounds.
What makes the Tracking Solar Tree even more intriguing is the fact that it contains a SunCharge electric vehicle charging station at its trunk, permitting the entire structure to produce up to 30,000 kilowatt hours a year and provide enough solar energy to charge six electric vehicles per day.
Manufactured by Envision Solar International, the patent pending, dual synchronous solar tracking system is capable of capturing 25 percent more solar power than a standard fixed solar canopy, a benefit that can possibly put an end to the common misconception that solar power capture devices need a lot of space (such as a big, open, flat field) that receives a significant amount of sunlight with minimum cloud cover to function at full capacity.
“Envision’s Solar Tree is an ideal renewable energy solution because it gives us the ability to pull solar power from an area where traditional methods aren’t feasible due to space restrictions, like in a parking lot,” said Rob Threlkeld, global manager – renewable energy, General Motors. “Structures like this will go a long way in helping us reach our renewable energy goals.”
The Tracking Solar Tree at Milford will be the second such device on GM’s property; in November of 2011, The General and Envision Solar cut the ribbon on a solar tree at GM’s Tech Center in Warren, Michigan. The announcement is a step forward to meeting GM’s commitment to double its global solar output by the end of 2015 while increase the use of renewable energy to 125 MW by 2020.
The GM Authority Take
Just looking at the Tracking Solar Tree is captivating… but the thought of having one of these at parking lots around the world, perhaps with a built-in “charge meter”, is even more alluring. Now, who said that EVs can’t be charged using renewable energy sources?