Envision to Build Solar Forest in North Carolina

an untapped solar resource - the parking lot
A solar tree forest in a commercial parking lot

When the Envision Corporation first came up with the idea of adding solar panels to parking lots, it was a stroke of genius. Parking lots are large, open areas that get a lot of sunlight. Putting up solar panels just made sense. Envision developed a concept called the solar tree which provided shaded areas for cars to park in while using the top side as a solar collector. These solar trees track the sun in all directions from a central column and provide shade for cars and charging stations for electric cars.

Envision is in the planning stages to design a 35 MegaWatt solar photovoltaic plant with 2,300 of its solar trees in partnership with Horizon Energy Group and an independent property owner in North Carolina. Installation is set to begin in late fall of 2013 with a tentative completion date in mid-summer of 2014. The speed of installation is shocking, considering the large scale of the project and the multiple locations that are expected to be utilized. But Envision Solar CEO Desmond Wheatley is confident that they can meet the time frame. When asked about it, he said, “Our Drag and Drop capabilities make it possible for us to deliver the very high quality that Horizon demands in a highly efficient and scalable manner keeping costs in check but never at the expense of quality. This will be by far our biggest deployment to date and we are ready for it.”

Envision’s 2300 solar tree forest will provide shade for 13,800 vehicles in the North Carolina region. Each tree has the capability of fully charging 6 electric vehicles every day. This could make an entire fleet of electric cars carbon neutral if they were charged on the property during work hours.

Envision is no stranger to demanding projects. In fact, they created one of the first solar parking lots in 2009 for Dell Corp. Envision placed a 516 panel solar tree system in Dell’s Round Rock, Texas headquarters which offset 130,000 Kw of electrical draw every year. The solar trees on Dell’s campus provide shade for up to 50 vehicles and incorporate two electric vehicle charging stations as well.

In addition to the Dell and Horizon partnerships, Envision also partnered with Orange counties 360 Commercial Partners, commercial real estate team. This high end real estate team is using the solar tree as a selling point that set’s its properties apart from the others in the marketplace. The idea of having a solar power plant on the campus to lower energy costs is a big draw. And, because the solar trees are architecturally pleasing, they add a unique and modern functional artistic element.

The plug and play installations are so easy to incorporate into existing parking lots that Envision has also installed two solar trees on GM property – one at its Milford Proving Grounds and another at the Warren, Mi campus. GM has dedicated itself to having at least 25 percent of its power generation by 2015. Perhaps they will be adding more solar trees to their campuses across the country.


What do you think about the solar tree? Would you consider having one installed on your property?

  • vernon jones

    How much will they change for parking and plug in your car

    • Arjun Jolly

      I don’t think it will be much different than normal electricity rates. that’s what I’ve seen in other areas.