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France, Jul 25, 2017,  by Allianz Partners Business Insights

eTree: Photovoltaic tree "planted" in Nevers, France – a first for Europe

First seen at the Paris Climate Conference in 2015, the eTree has made its debut in Nevers, in the Nièvre department of France. The first ever European tree with photovoltaic leaves was unveiled in the central French city last May, with local inhabitants now able to access a whole host of solar-powered services.


An eTree with photovoltaic leaves was unveiled on 29 May in Nevers, in the Nièvre department of France, by the mayor of the city Denis Thuriot. It is the first "solar tree" to be implemented in Europe since the model was showcased to decision-makers at the Paris Climate Conference in 2015. It is fed solely by solar power, and offers a whole host of services to users.


Wi-Fi, charging station, water fountain, shade, street lamp…


Passers-by will be able to recharge electronic devices and electric bikes directly via the eTree, which like its more natural counterparts will also provide shade on sunny days. This photovoltaic version however also has a Wi-Fi signal, and an air condensation system that makes it a source of fresh water. At night, the tree will light up the surrounding area by using the solar power it has produced and stocked during the day – which can be as much as 7kW.


Paris wanted it, Nevers got it


At the Paris Climate Conference, mayor of the city Anne Hidalgo had already expressed her wish to see several eTrees "planted" in the French capital. Nevers beat them to it, with Mayor Thuriot managing to persuade the designers of the solar-powered tree to install their first ever European model in the prefecture of the largest city in Nièvre. "I saw it and thought: 'we have to have this'," the independent mayor said to Mashable.

It is the prototype that was on display outside Paris city hall at the Climate Conference which is now in use in Nevers, and is "a strong symbol of our city’s commitment to the environment and to technology. Hopefully Nevers will set an example for others," said Thuriot of the eTrees that provide benefits both for local citizens and for the protection of the environment.


Less than two days to be "grown"


Another advantage of these multi-functional connected urban installations is that they do not require major work prior to installation. No significant foundations need to be dug, and they can be set in two days. Thereafter, they require no water or electricity, meaning that they can be used in isolated areas. Another plus is that eTrees are a curiosity that drive more visitors to the area. "Since we installed it, we’ve seen various people come to Nevers purely to see what it actually looks like," said the delighted mayor.

The eTree can withstand 70 centimetres of snow and winds of up to 170 km/h, but as is the case with most connected objects, there are still certain improvements that could be made in terms of security. This, however, is a minor inconvenience, with Thuriot quick to point out the social benefits that have seen local habitants gathering around the tree, "chatting with one another and saying how happy they are with this new local feature".


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