Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Can a 3D printed solar tree capture energy from the sun? Yes, say researchers at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.

Clean Power

3D Printed Trees Harvest Energy From Sun, Wind, & Temperature

Can a 3D printed solar tree capture energy from the sun? Yes, say researchers at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.

Originally published on SolarLove

Can a 3D printed solar tree capture energy from the sun? Yes, say researchers at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. Not only do these little powerhouses make electricity from the sun, they also harvest energy from the wind and changes in temperature.  VTT is the largest multi-technological applied research organization in northern Europe. It is part of the Finnish Ministry of Employment and Economy.


The tiny leaves are made of 3D printed organic solar cells. They react to sunlight to make enough electricity to power a cell phone or other small device. The flexible cells also make electricity when they vibrate, which happens when the wind blows or changes in temperature occur. The cells not only make electricity but can store it as well.

The “trunk” of the tree is manufactured from the byproducts created when real trees are harvested and made into lumber, so the trees even smell like real wood. The tiny trees can be used outdoors or indoors. The more “leaves” the solar tree has, the more power it generates.

Each “leaf” is just 0.2 millimeters thick and consists of electrodes and polymer layers. The engineers at VTT actually made them look like real leaves — well, sort of, if you squint a little and let your imagination roam free. VTT claims 200 of its leaves are good for 3.2 amperes of electricity. It they are placed on an outdoor location, one square meter of leaves can generate 10.4 watts in direct sunshine. Each “leaf” has its own micro-converter built in.

The 3D printed leaves have a useful life of 2 to 3 years. VTT says they can be fully recyclable so new ones can be produced with old materials. Thanks to their roll-to-roll manufacturing method, they can produce up to 100 meters of leaf rolls per minute.

Innovative thinking about solar power is taking place all around the world. In India,  researchers have unveiled a solar power tree they claim can produce 5 kilowatts of electricity while using only 4 square feet of land. For areas where open land is at a premium, the solar trees could produce significant energy in far less space than a conventional solar panel installation would require. Creative people are finding new ways to harvest the free power of sunlight every day.

Source: 3D  Photo credit: VTT

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Former Tesla Battery Expert Leading Lyten Into New Lithium-Sulfur Battery Era — Podcast:

I don't like paywalls. You don't like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it! We just don't like paywalls, and so we've decided to ditch ours. Unfortunately, the media business is still a tough, cut-throat business with tiny margins. It's a never-ending Olympic challenge to stay above water or even perhaps — gasp — grow. So ...
If you like what we do and want to support us, please chip in a bit monthly via PayPal or Patreon to help our team do what we do! Thank you!
Written By

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."


You May Also Like


See-through solar windows turn ordinary energy-sucking, carbon-spewing buildings into climate action heroes.


14Trees, a joint venture with British International Investment, the UK’s Development Finance Institution (DFI), impact investor and Holcim, has completed the successful construction of...


Sakuu announced today that it has successfully 3D printed solid-state batteries in custom shapes that include cooling channels.


Canadian auto parts suppliers are putting their sustainability skills on display with the Project Arrow electric car featuring a 3D-printed chassis.

Copyright © 2023 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.