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France 'plants' Europe's first eTree

The first "eTree" provided in Europe by Solar Tree Europ, during an inauguration ceremony in Nevers, northern France. Philippe Desmazes/AFP

A solar tree with giant square leaves that converts sunlight into electricity was unveiled in the central French town of Nevers on Monday, allowing passers-by to charge their phones, surf the internet, or just enjoy the shade.

Nevers, a town of 37,000 on the Loire river, is the first in Europe to experiment with the technology developed by Sol-logic, a French-Israeli start up.

Inspired by the acacia tree found in the Israeli desert and African savanna, the futuristic-looking "eTree" also supplies water and street lighting.

The first prototype was unveiled in Israel in 2014. A year later the first operational model was presented at the COP 21 climate conference in Paris.

Since then solar trees have been planted in around 10 cities in Israel and the US.