We have been pioneers in being absolute engineers by delivering innovative energy generating opportunities for our clients. By undertaking the wind/ solar tree feasibility study for Pitsea Railway Station we had an exciting opportunity to apply our knowledge of renewable energy systems in a novel and creative way. Such features provide the benefits of renewable energy generation already experienced on many of our projects using standard PV arrays, but also act as visually aesthetic and artistic landmarks that distinguish any development.
We initially brainstormed a wide variety of ‘sustainable design features’ for Pitsea Railway Station, ranging from wind and solar trees to kinetic pavement and microalgae energy generation. The benefits, drawbacks and viability of all options were presented to the client and project team at a feasibility workshop. Following our initial brief to evaluate the wind tree, we highlighted some previously unforeseen risks. These were acknowledged by the team and client, who subsequently expressed fresh enthusiasm towards alternatives we presented, such as a solar tree.
Through the initial workshop we quickly identified the client’s priorities – safety and security, energy generation capability and economic viability. Combining this with a new interest in solar trees, and concerns raised over wind trees, we initiated a more detailed feasibility study of wind and solar tree products on the market to recommend the most appropriate for Pitsea Railway Station. A quantitative and qualitative analysis was completed using a bespoke scoring system, developed for the project based on client priorities and outcomes of the feasibility workshop. The study concluded a solar tree would be the most appropriate feature, and three products that scored highly were recommended.
A gratifying outcome was the selection of one of our recommendations for progression into the design by the client – the ‘Strawberry Tree’ by Strawberry Energy. The Strawberry Tree is a stand-alone energy generating solar sculpture. Its panels recharge batteries to enable free charging of electronic devices, a wifi hotspot and environmental sensors displaying local conditions such as air quality, temperature and noise levels. The Strawberry Tree also provides a community hub, with benches and shading around a robust and secure structure, making it appropriate for the station location.
A Strawberry Tree at Pitsea Railway Station would be the first installed in the UK, although numerous Strawberry Energy ‘Smart Benches’ have arrived in our city centre locations to demonstrate the viability and dependability of the product range. For Pitsea Railway Station the Strawberry Tree will therefore offer both functionality to the passing public, also act as a unique landmark demonstration of sustainable energy generation and design.