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Illustration courtesy of TrevorJohnston.com/Popular Science via http://share.sandia.gov/news/resources

Sandia’s Segmented Ultralight Morphing Rotor (SUMR) will make possible a new low-cost offshore 50-MW wind turbine with a rotor blade more than 650 feet (200 meters) long, two and a half times longer than any existing wind blade (imagine it stretching across two football fields). One of these turbines could meet the electricity needs of 20,000 homes.

At lower wind speeds, the blades are spread out (like the horizontal axis wind turbines that you’re familiar with) in order to maximize energy production. At dangerous wind speeds, like tropical storms or hurricanes, the blades are made to align with the wind direction, reducing the risk of damage. It may be possible that they could continue to spin like an egg beater set on its side.

The design was inspired by palm trees, which are able to survive severe storms by bending their trunks and folding their branches to align with the wind.

via mentalfloss

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Kepler Energy’s Transverse Horizontal Axis Water Turbine (THAWT)

There are many different ways to convert tidal energy into electricity. We’ve recently come across a few innovations like the work being done at the University of Oxford (Kepler THAWT pictured above).


Seagen’s 1.2 MW Tidal Energy Converter

The LAGI 2016 design site offers an opportunity for participants to think about tidal energy technologies, their form, and their relationship to space, both above and below the surface of the water. What is the ecological impact of their addition to the sea bed?



Tidal Stream Titan 1-3MW

The two major taxonomies are those that employ tidal barrage (dams) and those that catch the free-flowing tidal stream. Tidal stream type generators work very much like wind turbines, but because water is denser than air, the potential power per swept area is great.


Section through the proposed Swansea Tidal Lagoon.
Check out the work that Cape Farewell is doing at Swansea.

Barrage type tidal generators—like the proposed Swansea Tidal Lagoon in Wales—tend to benefit from a sizable difference between low and high tides. It’s interesting to think of breakwater constructions and storm/sea level resiliency infrastructures as potentially serving as a tidal barrage as well.


Delta Stream by Tidal Energy

We’re looking forward to seeing what creative applications can be found that explore how this technology can be expressed with a cultural aspect.


West Islay tidal project off South West Scotland (DP Marine Energy and DEME Blue Energy Consortium)

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click link for image source

With LAGI 2016 focusing on a coastal site, we thought it would be interesting to highlight this project in Toronto that is demonstrating a new kind of compressed air storage.

The project maintains a small ecological footprint by using horizontal drilling techniques to connect to deep water where the pressure is equal to that of the air being stored.


click link for image source

The new technology being tested by Hydrostor in Toronto estimates 80% efficiency (energy extracted/energy stored) and can be applied to any coastal condition to help with intermittency (solar & wind), load balancing, reserve capacity, and peak-shaving needs of the regional electrical grid.

Via Fast Company. Article includes the original video embed and image.

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Understanding this research coming out of Columbia University, might make your mind explode. The implications of this are potentially far-reaching, but the research is still in an early stage and just beginning to get public attention. It doesn’t even have a name really yet. How about “evaportricity”?

Wherever there is water there is evaporation. It happens all the time, sun up and sun down. It is a manifestation of the molecular energy that exists in all water above absolute zero. Until now, the power of this natural phenomenon has never been converted into other forms of energy. This new research is showing us that evaporation energy can be successfully converted to kinetic energy (and then into electrical energy) and that the technology can be scaled.

From Nanowerk News:

When evaporation energy is scaled up, the researchers predict, it could one day produce electricity from giant floating power generators that sit on bays or reservoirs, or from huge rotating machines akin to wind turbines that sit above water, said Ozgur Sahin, Ph.D., an associate professor of biological sciences and physics at Columbia University and the paper’s lead author.

“Evaporation is a fundamental force of nature,” Sahin said. “It’s everywhere, and it’s more powerful than other forces like wind and waves.”

As a side benefit to this new technology, wherever it is installed (ideally on the surface of a body of water) it keeps water in a closed loop without releasing it to the air. In other words, this technology could be installed on top of water reservoirs to generate electricity while also conserving water. They are still a long way from commercializing this, and they will need to move beyond the use of spores, but still it is impressive.

Who can imagine what these evaportricity infrastructures will look like when they are scaled up to power our cities?!

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In Tehachapi California a new experiment in wind power is being tested. GE is applying a large dome at the rotor hub of three-blade horizontal axis wind turbines. The 60 ft. diameter space frame attachment channels the wind to the perimeter of the rotor where it produces more power.

The 20,000 lb structure can help to increase the power output of existing turbines by around 3%, which has the potential to bring the cost of wind power down significantly below its already low cost. Interestingly, it could also impact the form of future blades, allowing them to be designed for greater output without increasing the overall diameter of the rotor. This is important because the size of wind turbines has increased to the point where it is already very difficult to transport the blades to installation sites.

The ecoROTR is in some way like the Compact Acceleration Wind Turbine (CWAT) experiments that channel the wind to the blades from the perimeter of the rotor, but instead it is working at the center, which potentially means less material cost. The added material cost of the CWAT rings has made it difficult for them to compete in the marketplace.

Of course LAGI is in favor of the compact acceleration idea being applied to public art applications and many past LAGI submissions have incorporated some variation of it.

We’re really excited about this advancement. It’s not every day that there is such a dramatic shift in the form of wind turbine design. If the ecoROTR experiment proves successful it could have a reverberating impact on the design of our energy landscapes. As these new rotor hubs are added on and as blades take new shapes, future wind turbines may look very different than current models. The elegantly thin profile of today’s turbines are nice, but perhaps there are opportunities here for creativity?

We modified the image below just ever so slightly to get a feel for what might be possible for the turbine proboscis of the future!

via This Captain America-Style Shield Makes Wind Turbines More Powerful

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Image: Copyright Vortex Bladeless

Vortex Bladeless wind power is making big waves this week with articles in Wired and The Verge. Check out those articles for more information about the technology and some insightful comments from the Vortex team.

We’ve been following Vortex for some time with the hopes that 1. the full scale installations will be wildly successful, and 2. they will inspire creative applications of wind energy installations that can be placemaking contributions. Who wouldn’t want to hang out in a park with these simple and elegant objects?


Photo: Copyright Dia Art Foundation, New York

We also think it’s interesting to compare the formal expression of a field of these Vortex Bladeless installations to that of The Lightning Field, 1977. Walter De Maria’s sublime land art work is the kind of art that inspired us to conceive of the Land Art Generator Initiative in 2008. The piece in the high desert of western New Mexico incorporates 400 polished stainless steel poles in a grid array measuring one mile by one kilometer. It is intended by the artist to be experienced over a long period of time and visits to the site require an overnight stay. While the gesture to the sky from the earth seems in our minds to be a temptation to lightning, we do not need to witness a lightning strike to have a full experience of the artwork.

We’re looking forward to the day that someone catches a photo of lightning striking the Vortex Bladeless array (although that will probably require some repair work).

Vortex Bladeless uses the phenomenon of vorticity to generate vibrations that are converted into electricity.

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During our time in Denmark last autumn we came across the fantastic company Innogie, whose objective is the aesthetic integration of renewable energy systems into buildings.

The vision for the Innogie solar roofing concept is to construct a highly integrated, aesthetically attractive, adequate and cost efficient roofing solution providing both sufficient heat and electricity for a household on an annual basis, while surpassing current solutions considering price, performance and installation simplicity.

We think that the simplicity and elegance of the Innogie system could have interesting applications in renewable energy sculptures too!

From their website:

The cost efficient Innogie system covers the annual need of heat and electricity without impacting negatively on the aesthetics of the house.

The system’s main component consists of a roofing solution also functioning as a large thermal solar absorber. By using the whole rooftop as absorber large amounts of heat is generated throughout the year. Firstly this heat is used to cover the annual heating needs of the house and secondly the large amount of surplus heat generated during the summer is utilized to generate electricity in a so-called HP/ORC module. The same module can be used during winter as an efficient heat pump which simplifies the complexity of the total system radically compared to competitive products.

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Aquion Energy's Aqueous Hybrid Ion (AHI™) Energy Storage is a solution for flexible micro-grids with inherently safe chemistry (salt water) that is non-flammable and non-explosive, and with no dangerous failure modes.

There are number of ways to measure the cost of energy when you are comparing, say solar photovoltaic vs. coal-fired power for example. When comparing simple cost per megawatt-hour over a 30-year power plant life-cycle, we are now at or near the point in the vast majority of locations around the world where solar and wind energy installations are a better value for power production over time than are non-renewable options such as coal, petroleum, nuclear, or even natural gas. This is not even taking an accounting of externalities and risks. But a major issue that is keeping solar and wind from dominating new power construction is the issue of dispatchability or peak-load potential. Dispatchable generation is that which can be turned off or on at any time and at nearly any capacity to meet fluctuations in demand. When there is a power outage for some reason, there needs to be a way to bring new sources quickly online.

Solar and wind are both making strides in addressing their variability when it comes to base load supply, with increased flexibility in the transmission grids and with some amount of inherent energy storage to modulate for the intermittent nature of the winds and the sun. For example, solid state thermal storage and sodium thermal storage are providing larger plants with the ability to produce a nearly constant supply of energy to match the performance of a nuclear plant. Reverse-hydro offers another, albeit geographically limited, option for large-scale storage.

But we are now on the verge of also seeing a battery technology revolution that will allow for on demand access to stored renewable energy capacity that will make it possible to imagine a more robust and flexible 100% renewable energy infrastructure that can free us from even the “bridge technology” of natural gas-fired peaking plants.

A prototype flow battery in Aziz's lab at Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. (Photo by Eliza Grinnell, SEAS Communications.)

There are a number of recent breakthrough technologies that promise mass energy storage with little environmental impact, such as Pittsburgh-based Aquion Energy’s modular salt water batteries (featured above: click the image for more information). And last week, research at Harvard University has shown proof of concept for a new and efficient family of organic flow batteries that use harmless and abundant organic materials similar in chemistry to the molecules that store energy in plants (in this case, rhubarb). From the Harvard article:

Flow batteries store energy in chemical fluids contained in external tanks—as with fuel cells—instead of within the battery container itself. The two main components—the electrochemical conversion hardware through which the fluids are flowed (which sets the peak power capacity), and the chemical storage tanks (which set the energy capacity)—may be independently sized. Thus the amount of energy that can be stored is limited only by the size of the tanks. The design permits larger amounts of energy to be stored at lower cost than with traditional batteries. […]

To store 50 hours of energy from a 1-megawatt power capacity wind turbine (50 megawatt-hours), a possible solution would be to buy traditional batteries with 50 megawatt-hours of energy storage, but they’d come with 50 megawatts of power capacity. Paying for 50 megawatts of power capacity when only 1 megawatt is necessary makes little economic sense.

For this reason, a growing number of engineers have focused their attention on flow battery technology. But until now, flow batteries have relied on chemicals that are expensive or difficult to maintain, driving up the energy storage costs.

The active components of electrolytes in most flow batteries have been metals. Vanadium is used in the most commercially advanced flow battery technology now in development, but its cost sets a rather high floor on the cost per kilowatt-hour at any scale. Other flow batteries contain precious metal electrocatalysts such as the platinum used in fuel cells.

The new flow battery developed by the Harvard team already performs as well as vanadium flow batteries, with chemicals that are significantly less expensive, and with no precious metal electrocatalyst.

“The whole world of electricity storage has been using metal ions in various charge states but there is a limited number that you can put into solution and use to store energy, and none of them can economically store massive amounts of renewable energy,” Gordon said [Roy G. Gordon is Harvard’s Thomas Dudley Cabot Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Materials Science]. “With organic molecules, we introduce a vast new set of possibilities. Some of them will be terrible and some will be really good. With these quinones we have the first ones that look really good.”

These new battery technologies are going to increase the ability of distributed clean energy microgrids to impact on the existing power landscape in all sorts of ways. With the inevitable application of salt water and flow batteries into the energy infrastructure of our future electrical grids, the questions are:

  • How will these storage units display themselves in our cityscapes?
  • Can we think creatively about how to integrate these modules into our architecture? Are there ways in which batteries can merge in functionality with state-changing insulation materials?
  • Are there opportunities to create beautiful parks and transport corridors while safely lining our landscapes with energy storage devices?
  • And of course, what role does public art have in the manifestation of energy storage infrastructures?
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    A collaboration between The Sphelar Power Corporation and the design studio graf, these beautiful lanterns use the unique micro-spherical solar cell technology originally developed by the Kyosemi Corporation.

    Sphelar works by capturing light from all directions. The small bead-like collectors can be arranged in series to create a simple and beautiful texture within glass or plastic, or spread on any other substrate, such as fabric.

    The Sphelar Lantern also comes with a usb connection in case you forget to put it out during the day. It is an elegant hourglass shape and plays on that form—when flipped over, the lantern turns on with a nice soft candlelight glow.

    The middle band, hand crafted in Hokkaido, is available in walnut or birch. You can find a list of shops that sell it here.

    Sphelar is also currently working on a garden light with a similar design, and developing the world’s first energy-harvesting textiles!

    If you are familiar with the Land Art Generator Initiative, you’ll recall that two of the LAGI 2010 design entries incorporated Sphelar solar technology into their proposals. It really is an interesting technological medium that can be used in versatile and sculptural forms:


    pv dust


    project s: flow

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    This new concept by Belatchew Arkitekter for onsite renewable energy generation in high rise architecture has caught our eye. Designed for the city of Stockholm (an extension of the south tower on Södermalm), the building would generate its own power through piezoelectric energy produced by the cilia-like protrusions on the surface of the building.

    This is similar to the technology used in Windstalk (from the 2010 LAGI design competition) and Electric Meadow (from the 2012 LAGI design competition). Another article dedicated to the formal attributes of these designs can be read here.

    When placed on a building surface as Belatchew has done, the effect will really be amazing. Imagine the UK Pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai Expo by Heatherwick Studio, with each of its follicles free to sway independently in the breeze. Maybe in the future our cities will be retrofitted to bring this urban wind harvesting to the majority of the buildings. We can see all of our Venturi corridors lined with energy cilia, perhaps collecting our pollution while lighting our nights.

    via POPSCI

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    The School of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science at Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) has demonstrated a working prototype of an entirely new type of wind energy generator—the EWICON. What is so interesting is that this wind energy harnessing device works without any blades or moving parts.

    This makes it much more easily integrated into buildings than conventional wind turbines, which cause vibration, noise, and shadow flicker. It also means that these new wind power generators may have longer useful life and require less maintenance.

    The science behind it is less than intuitive.

    The model-EWICON is quite abstract in appearance. A fluid steel frame in the shape of a rectangular zero surrounds a framework of horizontal steel tubes. Within the framework, charged droplets are formed, which are then blown away by the wind. The movement of the droplets produces electric power that can be transferred to the electricity grid. In 2009, Mecanoo used the EWICON in their design of the Stadstimmerhuis 010 building in Rotterdam, with two EWICONS being deployed to create the 010 symbol on the roof. The EWICON will be developed further if funding is secured for follow-up research.

    But this video may help to explain it…

    It reminds us a little of the principle at work in Kelvin’s Thunderstorm, but while in Kelvin’s model the charged particles are moved by gravity, in the EWICON, the particles are moved by the wind. There are also great similarities with Alvin Marks’ Vaneless Ion generator.

    via Earth Techling

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    We learned of yet another “twist” on solar power generation via this Forbes article about the ARPA-E conference in Washington D.C.

    The Solar Vortex borrows its inspiration from dust devils, those miniature twisters of excited dirt that sometimes arise in the dusty and dry stretches of the U.S. Southwest. What gets a dust devil going is the difference in temperature between the scorching-hot ground and the somewhat cooler air above. The hot air rises, twists and gives rise to a momentary dust tornado.

    Georgia Tech is the leader of a consortium that aims to capture this dust-devil energy inside a stubby cylinder. The concept is simple: The cylinder sits upon a dark surface that absorbs lots of heat. The “walls,” so to speak, are angled vanes that take the hot air rising off that hot surface and twist it into a vortex. At the top, a set of fan blades sit in the path of the rising air. The fan blades turn, activating a generator that creates electricity.

    The video below is a miniature model of the Solar Vortex on the exhibition floor. The cylinder sits on a plate that is, like hot pavement, almost too hot to touch, about 47 degrees Celsius (116 degrees Fahrenheit). The movement you see in the blade is solely from the force of moving air.

    More from the Forbes article:

    Georgia Tech has already purchased gotten rights to use a site in Mesa, Arizona — plenty of heat there — and is working toward building a 50-kilowatt commercial-scale model. Final negotiations with ARPA-E are underway for an intermediate step: a 10-kilowatt version by 2015. Arne Pearlstein, a professor of mechanical engineering who is a collaborator, told me that the commercial-scale version might be 10 meters wide but only two or three meters tall, and that the units would sit about 55 meters apart. These squat machines could bring renewable energy to regions that are bombarded by heat but don’t have much wind. (Though gusts of wind would only serve to make the turbine spin faster, Pearlstein said.)

    Pearlstein estimated that the Solar Vortex could spin out electricity 20 percent cheaper than wind turbines and 65 percent cheaper than solar photovoltaic panels. One form of saving comes from its potentially straightforward maintenance. “You’re talking about somebody getting up on a stepladder instead of going hundreds of meters up into a wind turbine to deal with a gearbox,” Pearlstein said.

    It seems that this idea could have a lot of potential for conceptually inspired applications that would make a larger Solar Vortex installation a real destination art piece.

    More information on the Georgia Tech research can be found here (more diagrams and videos). In searching for more information on the idea, we came across a number of similar concepts and pending patents. More examples of supporters of the technology can be found here and here.

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    We came across this spectacular application of concentrated solar power via designboom. André Broessel is the inventor/designer behind Rawlemon, a social design company in Barcelona that has patented the dual axis tracking ball lens technology that they have dubbed “B.torics” and which has incredible potential for building integrated photovoltaics.

    The design is somewhat similar to a Fresnel lens CPV with a very wide focus, but instead of compacting the lens into the flat Fresnel shape, Rawlemon has left the spherical lens’ beautiful form unadulterated in its perfect geometry. The visual effect is obviously stunning. And while the fabrication may be somewhat more complicated than flattening the lens, leaving the sphere whole has two benefits that seem to offset this.

    First, every section cut that is made in the face of a lens to flatten it into its Fresnel shape creates inefficiencies in the optics when compared to the original lens. Rawlemon’s sphere maintains 100% optic purity which leads to greater efficiency and more KW capacity per unit of surface area. Second, by leaving the lens as a complete orb, the tracking can take place behind the lens. The benefit of this is that instead of a system where an large wall of CPV modules has to be moved to track the sun, each multijunction cell can rotate like a little satellite behind its spherical lens. This design leaves the “wall” of modules free to stay in its static position, either as a vertical building facade or at any angle.

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    Inspired by the geometry of the Lotus Flower, Monarch has created a prototype of a small-scale combined heat and power (CHP) system, for applications such as shown above

    The company is aiming to bring the product to market for about $1.50/watt. Each 4m diameter unit will have a peak capacity of 3KW PV electrical output and simultaneous 3KW thermal water output, and cost $9,000 (installed).

    Functioning solely as a freshwater supply, the unit could produce 10,000 liters of purified (desalinated) water per day.

    via gizmag

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    Augustin Mouchot’s Solar Concentrator, 1869. (source)

    The history of renewable energy is fascinating. We posted a while back about early efforts to harness the power of waves. You may also be interested to learn more about the 19th century work of Mouchot and Ericsson, early pioneers of solar thermal concentrators (CSP solar thermal power).


    Early schematics of Augustin Mouchot’s Solar Concentrator.

    Augustin Mouchot taught secondary school mathematics from 1852-1871, during which time he embarked on a series of experiments in the conversion of solar energy into useful work. His proof-of-concept designs were so successful that he obtained support from the French government to pursue the research full-time. His work was inspired and informed by that of Horace-Bénédict de Saussure (who had constructed the first successful solar oven in 1767) and Claude Pouillet (who invented the Pyrheliometer in 1838).


    Augustin Mouchot’s Solar Concentrator at the Universal Exhibition in Paris, 1878. (source)

    Mouchot worked on his most ambitious device in the sunny conditions of French Algeria and brought it back for demonstration at the Universal Exhibition in Paris of 1878. There he won the Gold Medal, impressing the judges with the production of ice from the power of the sun.

    Unfortunately, the falling price of coal, driven by efficiencies of transport and free trade agreements with Britain, meant that Mouchot’s work would soon be deemed unnecessary and his funding was cut soon after his triumph at the Universal Exhibition.


    Abel Pifre and his solar powered printing press. Image from Scientific American, May 1882. (source)

    His assistant, Abel Pifre, would continue his work, however, and demonstrated a solar powered printing press in the Jardin des Tuileries in 1882. Despite cloudy conditions that day, the machine printed 500 copies per hour of Le Journal du Soleil, a newspaper written specially for the demonstration.


    John Ericsson’s Solar Engines. (left image source, right image source)

    Meanwhile, the great inventor and engineer John Ericsson had decided to devote the last years of his life to similar pursuits. His work on solar engines spanned the 1870s and 1880s. Instead of relying on steam, he utilized his version of the heat engine, a device that would prove very commercially successful when powered with more conventional fuel sources such as gas.

    From Paul Collins’ 2002 essay The Beautiful Possibility:

    “You will probably be surprised when I say that the sun-motor is nearer perfection than the steam-engine,” [Ericsson] wrote one friend, “but until coal mines are exhausted its value will not be fully acknowledged.” He calculated that solar power cost about ten times as much as coal, so that until coal began to run out, solar power would not be economically feasible. But this, to him, was not a sign of failure—there was no question that fossil fuels would indeed run out someday.

    The great engineer maintained an unshakeable belief in the future of solar power to his last breath; he had set up a large engine in his backyard and was still perfecting it when he collapsed in early 1889. Though his doctor made him rest, Ericsson could not sleep at night: he complained that he could not stop thinking about his work yet to be done.

    Both Mouchot and Ericsson were driven by the prescient understanding that access to coal, the predominant fossil fuel of the time, would eventually run out. And while, new discoveries of petroleum and natural gas have extended our inexpensive access to energy, we are finally now, 140 years later, reaching a time when their predictions are coming true. For the wisdom behind the premise is still as valid today as it was then—nothing that is finite can last forever. These inventors were so far ahead of their time, it is almost scary.

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    Les Nympheas by Claude Monet from Musee l’Orangerie, Paris

    Photovoltaic panels in Lake Colignola, near Pisa. FABIO MUZZI, AFP

    Marco Rosa-Clot, physicist and professor at the University of Florence, has demonstrated a floating photovoltaic power plant with wing reflectors in Lake Colignola near Pisa. The panels are mounted on a structure that is actually attached to a central column that extends to the water bed and which provides the rotation required for the panels to track the position of the Sun. The installation is somewhat reminiscent of water lilies.

    Marco Rosa-Clot and his team at Colignola, near Pisa. FABIO MUZZI, AFP

    From the AFP article:

    “Between the use of reflectors, panel movement, and water cooling, this new type of plant is able to supply 2,000 kilowatts / hour per year for each kW installed as compared to 1,200 kilowatts / hour per year for conventional systems,” says Rosa-Clot, at the head of a small family business, the Scintec, which conducts research in various industrial sectors and the environment.

    The other advantage of photovoltaics is the use of floating bodies of water left, as former quarries for example, preserving the landscape because the panels are virtually invisible.

    “A typical installation, such as on roofs for example, has a strong impact on the environment and landscape. Our facilities, however, are born to be used on lakes, old quarries shallow,” said Raniero Cazzaniga, an associate of Mr. Rosa-Clot.

    “His height does not exceed one meter and is generally not seen before arriving at the water’s edge. It’s not intrusive,” he said.

    Ras Al Khaimah concept from 2010

    We saw something similar here in the UAE a couple years ago with the Ras Al Khaimah solar island concept and prototype developed by a group of Swiss Scientists. We’re not sure what the status of that project is. Instead of PV with reflectors, they utilized fresnel CSP. But rather than the mirrors themselves rotating, which requires some complex mechanisms, the low friction of the water allowed the tracking to be done by simply rotating the entire floating system. They had developed the system for sea or land deployment.

    Fluor solar power plant in Carrisa Plains, CA.

    The mirrors of Marco Rosa-Clot’s design also remind us of a solar installation by Fluor. The use of mirror wing reflectors on either side of solar panels almost lends a contemporary sculptural aesthetic (a la Anish Kapoor) to the installation.

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    The Precasted Fiber Reinforced Concrete Collector by Airlight Energy is a refreshingly different design for CSP technology. It employs flexible pneumatic mirrors below and ETFE foil above, both stretched within a rigid concrete frame to create a parabolic trough system with a controlled environment that extends the life of the materials to an estimated 60 years. An integrated thermal storage system ensures 24-hour base load power.

    From the outside, the heavy concrete frame reminds us of the futuristic WWII-era “Spomeniks” of Yugoslavia. One could imagine a great neo-realist film scene shot within an array of these strange animals.


    Monuments at Podgaric and Mitrovica

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    Koichi Kamoshida/Bloomberg

    We came across this beautiful image today of the mirrors at JFE Engineering Corp.’s Solar Techno Park concentrated solar power (CSP) plant, in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. It reminded us of a George Nelson Associates sofa, the Marshmallow Sofa, designed by Irving Harper and manufactured by Herman Miller between 1956-1965.

    via Financial Post Energy Column
    more about the JFE Engineering Solar Techno Park

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    click image for source

    Haim Dotan Architects helped to design this concentrated solar power flower by Aora, inspired by the shape of a tulip. The first one pictured above was constructed on 0.5acre (2,000sq.m.) of land at Kibbutz Samar. They are now planning on constructing in Spain according to reporting today by Green Prophet.

    From the article:

    While the plant only produces kilowatts of electrical and thermal energy, and not megawatts like we see at CSP solar plants made by BrightSource or the CSP plant at Kuraymat, Egypt, the idea here is something kind of novel: to create small power plants around or very close to the grid, so that less power is lost along the way, in transmission.

    The invention started in the labs of Prof. Jacob Karni at the Weizmann Institute in the 80s.

    Each unit would power and heat between 40 and 50 homes by generating 100 kw of electric power and 170kW thermal power.

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    image from Torresol Energy

    We’ve written about Fibonacci Series before here on bLAGI. So it does not come as a great surprise to us that the layout of heliostats (solar-tracking mirrors) around a solar power tower could benefit from the natural geometry that informs the physical expression that is manifest by countless of nature’s most beautiful flora, including sunflower, cauliflower, pine cone, cactus, and cabbage.

    Thus is the news out of MIT, where researchers have managed to increase the electrical output per square meter of land area around solar power towers like those in operation by Abengoa and Torresol, and the one now under construction by BrightSource.

    Above is an idea of what the new arrangement of heliostats will be for solar power towers in the near future (click image to view the source). It seems so obvious doesn’t it? 🙂

    We’re sure that the biomimicry institute would approve.

    via the Huffington Post

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