In a way of course, all trees are solar trees. They grow because of solar energy, as all trees do. Actually, perhaps it is ironic then that the solar trees being talked about here were not grown with solar energy, but rather use solar energy in order to produce electrical energy.
Of all the kinds of renewable energy, many people see solar energy as the best kind. It is scalable, meaning that it can be employed on a large scale, for example as a solar farm in the desert, or at an abandoned tin mine as they are in Cornwall. Or on a small scale, meaning that private individuals can feasibly have it installed on their roofs. Actually, as well as being scalable in that way, you can also say that large panels can be produced, as can very small particles to produce solar energy, in the form of nanotechnology. In other words, one of the best things about solar energy is its versatility.
It has the same problem that most renewable energy technology has however, which is that many people consider it to be ugly. Permission to have solar panels on certain roofs has been denied for this reason. And while certain high profile cases are going ahead in spite of this issue, for example on a house owned by Prince Charles, as well of course as the house owned by President Obama, the White House, there are people who would prefer that they could fit in better aesthetically. One of these places where it is important to the people in charge that they do not spoil the look of the place is Cambridge University.
As Cambridge is one of the oldest, and most prestigious universities in England, they do not want that special old-fashioned look ruined by modern solar panels, no matter how much money and pollution they may save. Fortunately, however, there is a solution. You guessed it, solar trees. As already mentioned, these are not trees powered by solar energy. Instead, they are trees that use solar energy to create electricity. Actually, strictly speaking, they are not trees at all. They are man made artifices made to look like trees. The important part however, is that they have solar panels on their “leaves” and they both look nice and create solar energy.
This is the sort of innovation which is common when it comes to solar energy. It is the versatility which it has that makes it one of the most popular forms of renewable energy. With the spray-on technology which is under development, it will soon not be necessary to have visible solar panels at all. An invisible thin-film of solar panels will, in the near future, be able to be sprayed onto just about any surface to produce solar energy. The applications will then be nearly limitless.
Until then however, the best option for private individuals is still to have PV panels installed on their roofs. Or of course have solar trees planted in the garden. Although you probably won’t find any seeds at your local garden centre.