Making Renewable Energy Beautiful

At the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, the Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) announced the winners of its innovative design competition aimed at coming up with new models for integrating renewable energy facilities into existing communities and ecologically-sensitive landscapes.

The design concepts for three proposed sites in the United Arab Emirates not only had to be beautiful, but also “capture energy from nature, convert it into electricity, and store, and/or transform and transmit electrical power to a power grid connection point to be supplied by others” (see earlier post). In addition, the artistic solar facility must not create pollution, additional CO2 emissions, or have any local environmental impact: “Each entry should provide an environmental impact assessment in order to determine the effects of the project on the ecosystem into which the installation is to be constructed. Mention should be given to a mitigation strategy that will address any foreseeable issues.” According to The New York Times, winning projects may be built in United Arab Emirates sometime over the next few years.

The jury reviewed hundreds of projects from 40 countries and selected three winners:

1st place: Lunar Cubit, Robert Flottemesch, Jen DeNike, Johanna Ballhaus, and Adrian P. De Luca (see image above)

“Using frameless solar panels reduces embodied energy by nearly 30%, reducing time to be energy positive from seven years to five years. Around the pyramids flow natural stone paths in a repeating pattern that mirrors buried electrical cables, conducting electrons from the outer pyramids to the central pyramid where inside they are transformed into AC energy and transmitted to the Utility Grid. Co-locating walking paths and conduit runs minimizes the footprint of disturbed land during the construction allowing the maximum amount of natural ecosystem to remain untouched.”

2nd place mention: Windstalk, Darío Núñez Ameni and Thomas Siegl, with Atelier dna (concept and design), Gabrielle Jesiolowski (narrative), Radhi Majmudar PE, with ISSE Innovative Structural and Specialty Engineering (structure and engineering), Ian Lipsky, with eDesign Dynamics (ecology and renewable energy strategy).

“Our project consists of 1203 stalks, 55 meters high, anchored on the ground with concrete bases that range between 10 to 20 meters in diameter. The stalks are made of carbon fiber reinforced resin poles, 30 cm in diameter at the base and 5 cm at the top. The top 50 cm of the poles are lit up by an LED array that glows and dims depending on how much the poles are swaying in the wind. We roughly estimate that the overall output of our project is comparable to that of a conventional wind turbine array. While a single wind turbine that is limited in height to 55 meters may produce more energy than one of our Windstalks, our Windstalks can be packed in denser arrays.”

3rd place mention: Solaris, Hadrian Predock, John Frane (principals) and Chris Schoeneck, Johanna Beuscher, Heinrich Huber (design team)

“A curved, mirrored, mylar surface is designed to concentrate the sun’s rays of energy onto a cell of highly efficient photovoltaic material. The concentrated cell produces around 300-400 times the energy than that of a conventional cell. With close to 25,000 solar cells the Solar Canopy will produce on average 73,000 megawatt-hours per year – enough to power the country of Chad for a year.”

Explore all the entries, read through LAGI’s blog, and learn more on the background of the competition in The New York Times.

Image credits: (1) Lunar Cubit, Robert Flottemesch, Jen DeNike, Johanna Ballhaus, and Adrian P. De Luca, (2) Windstalk, Darío Núñez Ameni and Thomas Siegl, (3) Solaris, Hadrian Predock, John Frane (principals) and Chris Schoeneck, Johanna Beuscher, Heinrich Huber (design team)

2 thoughts on “Making Renewable Energy Beautiful

  1. Olmo | Green and Energy 01/19/2011 / 3:57 pm

    nice solutions, I like the second one🙂


  2. Iva St.John-Whitman 01/29/2011 / 9:03 pm

    It is of the time and about time for such beautiful contributions in a very needed source and it’s better aesthetic contribution!

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