A new type of tree is taking root in Eau Claire

Updated: Jun. 18, 2021 at 5:44 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -From the savannas of Africa to the Cannery District in Eau Claire, a new type of tree is giving solar energy an upgrade, and it’s making its debut in the Chippewa Valley.

At Artisan Forge Metalworks in Eau Claire an E-Cacia tree is taking form. When it’s done, it’ll look something like this.

The first prototype, built by the Eau Claire based company Solar Forma, stands some 18 feet.

General Manager Brian Graff said though it’s made of metal, it functions like the tree that serves as its inspiration thanks to its solar panels.

“It gathers sunlight and stores it during the day and releases it at night or during the day for any number of human needs,” Graff said. “It provides lighting at night. It can recharge devices such as cell phones, iPads, whatever that might be.”

In one day the solar tree can make between 4.5 to nearly 5 kilowatt hours of electricity.

Graff said that’s enough energy to power a 2,500 to 3,000 square foot home.

The E-Cacia solar tree will be taking root soon.

Near this road construction on North Oxford Avenue, the Eau Claire Redevelopment Authority approved the installation of a solar tree.

Executive Director Aaron White said it’s all part of a revitalization plan for the area.

“The Cannery District Redevelopment Project and the construction going on with the street behind us was perfect timing to incorporate something into the public spaces that were about to be created,” White said.

White said the tree will be an attraction piece itself in a part of town that the city is working to revitalize.

This will be the first solar tree here in the United States, but Solar Forma has plans to expand its operation right here in the Chippewa Valley.

A solar tree is just the first step in the city’s plans for the Cannery District. In addition to other changes, it’s working on a park redevelopment plan. The city will be looking for public input on this project as it starts the planning process.

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