Prototype contract agreed to manufacture solar tree

solar tree

The first commercial prototype of SolarBotanic’s innovative solar ‘tree’, capable of powering homes and charging electric vehicles, is being developed by experts at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC). 

The trees are designed for aesthetically sensitive locations, featuring a dome made up of nano photovoltaic (PV) ‘leaves’ which can harness enough solar energy to power individual homes and charge electric vehicles. It is hoped that these solar trees will provide a clean and green energy solution to accelerate the UK’s net-zero journey.

SolarBotanic Trees is working with the AMRC to develop a field prototype for this new power generation system, with the aim to build the prototype as the company moves towards full scale commercial production. Since its launch in the summer of 2022, SolarBotanic trees has already secured its founding client with a multi-million pound deal with Raw Charging Group.

The AMRC, part of the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult network of research centres, is providing the  product development and design support to help build a functional prototype for testing.

“We are delighted to be working with the fantastic team at SolarBotanic Trees on the development of its energy-generating solar tree,” said John Spencer, senior project manager at the AMRC. “The business has a great product which will play an important role in developing the infrastructure necessary to support the shift to zero-emission electric vehicles (EVs), a core part of the UK government’s net zero strategy.

“The AMRC will provide design and prototyping support to advance the product through a rapid development cycle, enabling the company to launch the first solar tree, fulfil its pre-orders, and gain traction in the EV charging market. SolarBotanic Trees’ vision to create carbon-reducing technologies aligns with the AMRC’s drive to support the high-value manufacturing sector on the journey to net zero.” 

“With the AMRC bringing its design and prototyping expertise to the table it will help us accelerate commercialisation,” said Chris Shelley, CEO of SolarBotanic Trees. “The team at the AMRC is a great partner for SolarBotanic Trees to deliver the prototype at speed using its world-class facilities and talent which will enable us to rapidly move to commercial production in the near future, starting with our launch order for 200 trees for RAW Charging Group, a high growth UK and EU focused EV charging service provider.” 

Other project partners include the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry (MTC) and the Advanced Forming Research Centre in Scotland, both part of the HVM Catapult, along with Brunel University in London and multinational logistics company, Unipart.  

The latest project is rooted in a five-day design assist previously undertaken for SolarBotanic Trees, which saw the AMRC deliver a range of design concepts for the trunk, branch and petal structure of the solar tree, as well as investigating a range of monitoring and sensing methods to test, assess and select various PV cell options.

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