CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The newest trees in uptown Charlotte are not where many might expect—the third floor of a parking deck.
And there's a good chance you're children will be able to learn from these.
Turn on to Sixth Street from North Tryon Street and you'll likely say ‘what in the world is that?’ They are solar trees.
"It was very deliberate for this design so that it draws a lot of attention,” said Joanie Philipp, Vice President of Operations at Discovery Place. “Not just in the parking deck but from the street. You can see this from a couple of blocks for people to start asking questions about it."
Philipp says Discovery Place is a science and technology center so solar power makes sense here.
The process is still in the construction phase, and over the next couple of days crews will tweak the position of the solar panels to make sure they get the most sun.
"They are not up and running yet and are not fully connected yet…first in the process was getting these structures up on the deck,” Philipp said. “At the midpoint of the deck we're going to have an electric vehicle charging station so they'll have to connect it there."
The solar trees are expected to produce 50 percent of the power you'd need at home.
What doesn't go to the vehicle charging station will help power the air conditioning and lights in the museum's education building.
In the main museum there'll be a kiosk that shows how much energy is being produced.
“You can look at the readout and watch as it is generating power,” she explained.
That's the education component of this so students get a better feel for how solar power works.
The project started with a grant from the feds. Then, through the City of Charlotte, Discovery Place was chosen to receive $126,000 in funds through the Power2Charlotte energy efficiency and conservation awareness program.
"We're very proud of our solar trees. I joke that I'd love to get funding to have a solar forest ringing the entire top of the deck," Philipp added.
She really hopes this starts a conversation with both students and parents about renewable energy.
The entire project is expected to be finished by the end of April.