Quite a few European countries always seem to be ahead of the curve when it comes to instituting new ideas and technology. From Ireland's PlasTax that adds twenty cents for each plastic bag used at the checkout to Norway's electronic highway toll collection, Europe has been in the innovation lead for the best green approaches. This is never truer than using solar powered trees for efficient lighting.

Solar powered trees have been in the test mode for the last number of years. They come in a variety of different types, depending upon the manufacturer and the desired outcome of design. In essence, they are solar cells that are placed at the ends of branch like arms and assembled to appear in a tree like formation. This is a wonderful attempt at not only addressing the topic of renewable energy, but changing a boring technology into something that has a more organic appearance. Artistic creativity can offer all kinds of branch placement, so that they can be bundled together and end in an upward spray or emulate a closer resemblance to an actual tree. The solar cells themselves can be in an array of shapes, depending upon the final look that needs to be achieved: circular, triangular or other geometric shapes. Various colors, tones and light shading are also being used to enhance the visual effect. The day of the old fashioned street light is making way for a plethora of artistically designed solar powered trees.

The purpose of solar powered trees is to replace the standard and expensive street lights in communities, shopping centers and walk areas. Previous attempts at the renewable energy resource of solar trees lacked in the ability to sufficiently light up an area in a continuing manner when the weather was not bright and sunny. This problem has been overcome, with the solar trees ability to maintain lighting well enough for as long as four days when continuous sun was not available.

U.S. companies that have a renewable energy vision are following suit fairly fast. Many of the groves of solar trees are being planted in corporate parking lots, mall areas and cityscapes. As you might have guessed, California usually follows Europe in technology innovation, so many of the solar powered groves are now part of the California company infrastructure. One of the best uses of solar trees is in the park and ride lot in Vacaville, California. Hybrid car owners can drive their car up to the solar trees, plug them into the chargers and proceed with their ride to work or an event. This encompasses two arenas of renewable energy using the hybrid vehicle and the solar charge process.

There are websites and not for profit organizations that are put in place to help education as well as inviting new design ideas. This empowers the private citizen to get involved in a bit of the creativity and we therefore own the project more. Do not be surprised if the solar trees begin turning up in school parking lots with a creative signature of one of the students!

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