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Gardens by the Bay - Super Trees Generate Solar Power
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Gardens by the Bay - Super Trees Generate Solar Power

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Singapore's latest development will finally blossom later this month, with an imposing canopy of artificial trees up to 50 meters high towering over a vast urban oasis.

The colossal solar-powered supertrees are found in the Bay South garden, which opens to the public on June 29. It is part of a 250-acre landscaping project, Gardens by the Bay that is an initiative from Singapore's National Parks Board that will see the cultivation of flora and fauna from foreign lands.

The man-made mechanical forest consists of 18 supertrees that act as vertical gardens, generating solar power, acting as air venting ducts for nearby conservatories, and collecting rainwater. To generate electricity, 11 of the supertrees are fitted with solar photovoltaic systems that convert sunlight into energy, which provides lighting and aids water technology within the conservatories.

Comprising two glass biomes, the Conservatories replicate the cool-dry climate of the Mediterranean and semi-arid sub-tropical regions and the cool-moist climate of the Tropical Montane region. They house a diverse collection of plants that are not commonly seen in this part of the world and are of high conservation value.

The conservatories are a statement in sustainable engineering and apply a suite of cutting-edge technologies for energy-efficient solutions in cooling. This suite of technologies can help to achieve at least 30% savings in energy consumption, compared to conventional cooling technologies.

1) Minimising Solar Heat Gain
The two conservatories are fitted with specially selected glass that allows optimal light in for plants, but reduces a substantial amount of heat. The roof is fitted with a sensor-operated retractable sails that opens automatically to provide shade to the plants when it gets too hot.

2) Cooling only the occupied zones
The Conservatories apply the strategy of cooling only the lower levels, thus reducing the volume of air to be cooled. This is achieved through thermal stratification – ground cooling by chilled water pipes cast within the floor slabs enabling cool air to settle at the lower occupied zone while the warm air rises and is vented out at high levels.

3) De-humidifying the air before cooling
To reduce the amount of energy required in the cooling process, the air in the Flower Dome is de-humidified by liquid desiccant (drying agent) before it is cooled. This desiccant is recycled using the waste heat from the burning of the biomass.

4) Generating energy and harnessing waste heat
Electricity is generated on-site to run the chillers that cool the Conservatories. At the same time, waste heat is captured in the process to regenerate the liquid desiccant. This co-generation of energy is achieved by the use of a Combined Heat Power (CHP) steam turbine that is fed by horticultural waste from the Gardens and other parks around Singapore. This reduces dependency on the electrical grid.

Eleven of the Supertrees are embedded with environmentally sustainable functions. Some have photovoltaic cells on their canopies to harvest solar energy for lighting up the Supertrees., while others are integrated with the Conservatories and serve as air exhaust receptacles. 
 











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