Since 6 July 2013, the first charging tree in the Netherlands has stood at the entrance to the Botanical Gardens in De Uithof in Utrecht. The tree was ‘planted’ by HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht (HU) and Utrecht University (UU) as part of the Festival deBeschaving. The Zero Emission Tree is a sustainable charging point for electric bicycles that is designed to resemble a tree.
The Zero Emission Tree was developed by the Microsystems Technology research group of HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht in partnership with Enexis-Unplugged. The tree was co-designed by the Moorgen design agency.
The sustainable charging point for electric bicycles is designed in the shape of a tree. The tree generates its own energy using its ‘canopy’ of solar cells. Users of electric bikes can charge their bikes using the energy stored in the tree. Any excess energy is used for the Botanical Gardens. The tree incorporates as many natural-looking materials and organic forms as possible. As a result, it blends into a green area and it also looks like it has an association with sustainability.
The Zero Emission Tree is mainly designed for places such as pavements, car parks and other functional areas that may otherwise be unable to accommodate solar panels. By elevating the panels, the functionality of these sites can be preserved and energy can still be generated.
The first Zero Emission Tree was sponsored jointly by HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht and Utrecht University and was presented to the Botanical Gardens as a gift. By working on this project, HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht and Utrecht University want to underline their collaboration as partners in Utrecht Science Park (USP) and Sustainable Innovation in the Utrecht Region (SURE). HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht is putting ‘Go Green in Business, Education and Research’ into practice through the Zero Emission Tree.
The first prototype, which was a part of evaluating and improving the design concept, was put into operation on 21 June 2013 at HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht’s Sustainability Conference.