Smaragdfa (Emerald tree)
20 May 2020
Can renewable energy be even greener, the useful even more useful?
In the investment of Sunshine World Limited a solar power plant was established near Cegléd, Hungary in the second half of 2018. Around the solar power plant, parts of the plot remained free, which on the long run can provide an opportunity to expand the power plant and/or to build electricity storage. Until then, 155 Emerald tree (in Hungarian: Smaragdfa) seedlings were planted on an area of nearly 0.4 hectare north of the solar power plant, after thorough preparation of the land. Thanks to a Hungarian patent, the installation was carried out with irrigation water-saving technology in a previously neglected area of this desertifying desolate sheer area.
The Emerald tree is an extremely fast-growing, Hungarian-developed, non-seed-bearing Paulownia hybrid that is ripe for cutting in 7-9 years. More information is available on the website of SUNWO Zrt.: www.sunwo.eu
The benefits of planting Emerald trees next to our solar power plant can be summarized as follows:
- The utilization of the hitherto derelict northern part of the area will increase the value of the existing solar power plant investment.
- The area previously used to store construction debris has been almost completely reclaimed due to the solar power plant investment and timber planting.
- The new installation, together with the acacia forest bordering the power plant to the south, favorably shapes the microclimate of the immediate vicinity of the solar power plant (up to -3 degrees Celsius temperature correction) with which the even production of solar panels can be helped to avoid the panels overheating in the summer.
- The dust load on the environment is reduced, as 1 hectare of mature Emerald Tree plantation can catch up to 30 tons of dust per day.
- We protect and expand the habitat of bees, we promote the natural pollination of the plants in the area: the Emerald tree, which blooms from the third year, is an excellent honey pasture for bees.
- During the lifetime of the power plant, 0.6 – 1 m3 of quality wood products per log can be produced three times (every 6-8 years). After the first cut of the trunk, the stump sprouts again twice more! The wood has an exceptionally high calorific value (approx. 18,600 kJ/kg). The light (300 kg/m3) but medium hard wood can be used for a wide range of furniture and interior architecture purposes.
- The high-protein leaves of Emerald Tree provide excellent fodder for sheep previously settled in the area.
- Overall, the investment of Sunshine World Limited resulted in a highly progressive green solution: CO2-free solar power plant + intensive carbon-reducing tree planting. The 0.4 hectare Emerald tree plantation is expected to sequester about 40 tons of CO2 per year and instead produce oxygen and cellulose.
- The plantation is a special green reference, as this is the first significant Emerald tree planting worldwide in the immediate vicinity of a solar power plant!
- With this combination, the solar power plant of Sunshine World Limited and the Emerald Tree Carbon Climate Plantation together contribute to the complete fulfillment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG 17).
9 October 2020
Towards the end of the growing season, the experience of five months after the planting of emerald trees can be summarized as follows:
- The vast majority of planted roots have grown nicely, we had to replace just 15 of the 155 plants due to problems of sprout or rodent damage.
- The growth of successfully sprouted stems is extremely spectacular: most of the 20 – 30 cm seedlings planted in May are now above 200 – 230 cm! This means an average increase of 30 – 40 cm per month!
- Thanks to the programmed irrigation four times a week (5 liters/occasion) and the three times supply of nutrients (liquid pig slurry), not only the plants but also the weeds in their surroundings grew rapidly, which required more care than expected (mowing, hoeing, re-tying). The sheep mowing the lawn could not been allowed into the planting area this year, but they can also graze among the trees next summer.
- In the case of about 20 – 25 plants, the spectacular growth was not achieved, they reached a height of about 60-100 cm. We are investigating the reason for this with Sunwo Zrt. and we enrich the otherwise sandy – calcareous soil with a significant surplus of manure to catch up with the others.
- Wind gusts caused by summer thunderstorms broke the shoots in some places, but new shoots appeared almost immediately. The plantation will be pruned next year.
- The huge leaves with a diameter of 60 to 70 cm are favored foods for the sheep mowing the area.