Cnidaria Halitus

Cnidaria Halitus a submission to the 2016 Land Art Generator Initiative design competition for Santa Monica

Artist Team: John Eric Chung, Pablo La Roche, Danxi Zou, Jingyan Zhang, Tianyi Deng (CallisonRTKL)
Artist Location: Los Angeles, USA
Energy Technologies: tidal turbines (100% of energy used to pump water for distillation)
Water Harvesting Technologies: solar distillation with Fresnel lens
Annual Capacity: 220 million liters of drinking water

Expressing the mystery and beauty of ocean life, Cnidaria Halitus harnesses the natural forces of the sun and the tides to produce 600,000 liters of potable water each day for the City of Santa Monica. California’s buildings are on their way to becoming net zero energy, yet there is much to be done to achieve the same level of water conservation and generation that we have achieved with energy.

Cnidaria Halitus begins its water generation process by collecting and filtering water from the ocean through a centralized system of pipes that take it to the interior of each of the boilers located at the focal point of a Fresnel lens. To maximize heat collection, the axis of the Fresnel lenses and the collectors consistently track the sun in its daily and monthly trajectory across the sky.

The sun’s heat is concentrated onto the boilers, which evaporate the seawater.

The vapor condenses inside the external membrane, an ultra-lightweight transparent fabric that expands with the water vapor, further increasing the surface collection area and allowing maximum solar radiation on the boiler. The expansion and contraction of the external membrane will give the artwork a life-like expression.

The breakwater is used to channel the currents and to concentrate them in slits, where the turbines are located, harnessing the flowing kinetic energy of the tides to generate electricity. This electricity is used to pump the water up to the boilers and to continue the evaporation process during the night.

Cnidaria Halitus provides a visible solution to the problem of water scarcity, creating awareness while providing carbon free potable water from the ocean to the city.


Submission to the 2016 Land Art Generator Initiative design competition for Santa Monica

Team: Ricardo Avella, Andrés Tabora, Michael Henriksen, Carla Betancourt, Silvia Mercader, Laura Vera, Oriana De Lucia, Martin Von Bülow, Laura Vivas, Miguel Rosas (representing: Tabora + Tabora Landscape Architecture, ATA avella taller de arquitectura, WavePiston)
Artist Location: Caracas, Venezuela
Energy Technologies: wave energy converter (by WavePistonTM)
Water Harvesting Technology: reverse osmosis desalination
Annual Capacity: 4,200 MWh, less the energy used for desalination (up to 14 million liters per year)

Open spaces are essential for an urban environment to reach balance. They are a form of escape—a place to get away from the chaos of the city.

Noctilucales preserves the horizon line of the ocean—the clean and uninterrupted view, where the sea stretches out before you until it meets the sky. To compromise the horizon is to destroy the landscape.

WavePistonTM has developed one of the less visually obtrusive wave energy technologies consisting of a network of moving plates installed along cables. The movement of the plates creates hydraulic pressure, which is converted into electricity. All of the components are submerged in the ocean, making the system invisible from shore. Only the small anchored buoys on either side of each WavePistonTM string can be seen on the horizon.

Noctilucales has two main elements—the submerged wave power farm with 200 energy collectors, and an extension of the Santa Monica Pier, increasing the surface of public space and providing a secure area for the turbine/generator and desalination plant.

Underwater LED lights on top of each moving plate will cast a subtle glow at night. The energy collectors will be seen as a field of lights, producing a bioluminescent effect similar to the one created by natural Noctilucales in some parts of the world.

The hydraulic pipe runs along the breakwater to a turbine station on the new pier extension. The generator is made visible, with a glass wall built on one side to show the jets as they hit the turbine. In this way, people will follow the conversion process inside one of six green cylindrical structures. The system will supply electricity for the pier and the bioluminescent installation. The surplus electricity feeds into the city grid.

Some of the wave energy is used to produce fresh water with reverse osmosis desalination. With the kinetic energy of the waves, the cost of desalination can be greatly reduced. Instead of using pumps and motors, the ocean waves are able to naturally create the necessary pressures with the movement of the plates.

The desalination plant is transparent to demonstrate the process to visitors, and drinking water fountains along the new pier provide a first taste of the fresh water produced.

Ring Garden

Ring Garden
Submission to the 2016 Land Art Generator Initiative design competition for Santa Monica

Team: Alexandru Predonu
Artist Location: Bucharest, Romania
Energy Technologies: photovoltaic panels, algae bioreactor
Water Harvesting Technology: solar powered osmotic desalination (with waste brine used to culture algae for livestock feed)
Annual Capacity: 440 MWh (100% goes to power desalination processes and rotate the Ring Garden)
60 million liters of drinking water (40 million liters goes to agricultural production)
18,000 Kg of aeroponic crop yield (conserves 331 million gallons of water)
5,000 Kg of spirulina biomass for livestock feed

Agriculture is the largest user of fresh water in California. Ring Garden demonstrates a solution by creating a highly efficient ecosystem including a desalination plant, a rotating aeroponics farm, and an algae bioreactor. It harvests seawater, CO2, and the sun’s energy to create food, biomass, and fresh water.

Seawater enters the desalination plant through special screens that protect fish and local wildlife. Solar panels power a high-pressure pump to pressurize seawater above the osmotic pressure and through a semi permeable membrane.

The plants in the rotating farm use 60% of the water produced. The remaining 30% is sent to the city grid. The brine water is fed through the bioreactor to produce cultures of spirulina that, once mature, are sent to an offsite plant to produce biomass.

The aeroponics system uses 98% less water than conventional farming and yields on average 30% more crops without the need for pesticides or fertilizers. Ring Garden demonstrates that the main elements a plant needs in order to grow—water, sun, nutrients, and CO2— are on site and don't need to be transported.

Assisted by the power of the sun, the desalination plant provides fresh water and nutrients filtered from the seawater. On a footprint of about 1,000 m2 the farm can produce vegetables that would otherwise take 26,000 m2 of land and 340 million gallons of fresh water per year. Ring Garden consumes only nine million gallons of water per year. It saves 331 million gallons that would simply evaporate, which is water that can be redirected to 2,300 households.

The farm rotation reflects the movement of the Pacific Ferris wheel on the pier, and ensures that each “spoke” of planted area receives the appropriate amount of sunlight. The plant supports have a swivel mechanism that uses gravity to keep the plants always facing upward.

The structure is oriented south for best sun exposure. Ring Garden is tilted approximately 8.5 degrees so that on Earth Day (April 22) the sun seen from the Santa Monica Pier will set through the middle of the wheel.

Wake Up

Wake Up
Submission to the 2016 Land Art Generator Initiative design competition for Santa Monica

Artist Team: Henry Moll, Mary Carroll-Coelho
Artist Location: Philadelphia, USA
Energy Technologies: Wave Energy Converter (similar to “Salter’s Duck” invented in the 1970s by Steven Salter)
Annual Capacity: 1,400 MWh

The Santa Monica Pier—once a means of transporting waste out to the sea and now a place for social enjoyment—has a history of turning trash into treasure. Wake Up brings this tradition into the era of sustainability by transforming retired swan boats into contemporary energy generating pieces of water art.

The technology behind Wake Up utilizes the most abundant and local force at the pier, the wake of the ocean. Wave energy converters are devices that use the natural motion of wave movements to generate usable power. One such system was developed in the 1970s by Professor Stephen Salter at the University of Edinburgh and dubbed “Salter’s Duck.” The “ducks” consist of a series of wedge-shaped devices located at the ocean’s surface with a central axis throughout, housing the mechanics to generate power. As a wave encounters the underside of the wedges, the force pushes the wedges upwards, causing rotation at the central axis. This rotation creates electrical power through hydraulic generators.

Wake Up reuses retired swan boats to function as Salter’s Ducks, generating offshore energy and helping to power the pier’s amusement park. The swan boat’s body is modified, creating the necessary wedge shape, and a central axis links multiple boats together in staggered rows.

The system is dubbed the “Salt Swan” in reference to Mr. Salter and the atypical presence of swans in salt water. The “Salt Swans” are deployed just beyond the existing breakwater line to capture the most wave energy. When waves hit the swans, they emit a celebratory honking sound as a spectacle for the public to enjoy, and as a reminder of how the system works.

The “Salt Swans” are linked to the shore by a series of lit buoys that display the level of charge, much like a gas gauge in a car. As the onshore battery fills up, the buoys begin to light up in a suspenseful sequence. At full capacity, a dedicated, swan-inspired high striker on the pier rings its bell. Moments later, a light show ripples through the amusement park in celebration.

2000 Lighthouses Over the Sea

2000 Lighthouses Over the Sea
Submission to the 2016 Land Art Generator Initiative design competition for Santa Monica

Artist Team: Louis Joanne, Anaelle Toquet Etesse, Elba Adriana Bravo, Maria Rojas Alcazar, Ronan Audebert
Artist Location: Guadalajara, Mexico
Energy Technologies: Point Absorber Buoy Wave Energy Converter
Annual Capacity: 4,000 MWh

Continuing the playful atmosphere of the Santa Monica Pier, and inspired by the 2,000 wooden piles below, 2000 Lighthouses Over the Sea proposes 2,000 new columns that illuminate the horizon to the rhythm of the intensity of the waves and provide renewable energy to the pier and the city.

During the day, the masts could be interpreted as simple ship masts, drawing a line that catches the spectator’s attention without disturbing the landscape.

The artwork invites the public to walk out on a new pier extension. As the viewer moves and descends along the new path, she can find herself in the middle of a forest of light. The movement of the masts reflects the rhythm of the waves. From the central walkway, small side piers offer different views of the work and the surrounding landscape.

The light from the tip of the masts changes in intensity according to the power of the waves. In the presence of a storm or dangerous waves, the lights will flash a red warning.

Each of the masts signifies a buoy-type wave energy converter on the water’s surface. Groups of 150 masts share a synchronized collection point, from where the collected energy is transmitted to a power substation on shore.

2000 Lighthouses Over the Sea shows how it is possible to harness renewable energy resources by working in harmony with our planet, respecting marine life, and protecting the environment.

Sun Towers

Sun Towers
Submission to the 2016 Land Art Generator Initiative design competition for Santa Monica

Artist Team: BLDA Architects (John Perry, Matteo Melioli, Ramone Dixon, Terie Harrison, Kristina Butkute), XCO2 Consultants (Tom Kordel, Sherleen Pang, Kostas Mastronikolaou), Steven Scott Studio (Steven Scott)
Artist Location: London, UK
Energy Technologies: Photovoltaic Panels, Point Absorber Buoy Wave Energy Converter, Tidal Turbine
Water Harvesting Technologies: Solar Distillation, Reverse Osmosis Desalination
Annual Capacity: 4,000 MWh and 110 million liters of drinking water

The year 2016 marks a special occasion for Santa Monica. It is the 100-year birthday of the Looff Hippodrome, the gloriously eclectic carousel building that is one of the few features of Charles Looff’s Pleasure Pier that remains to delight visitors today. It seems appropriate to propose a new landmark to celebrate this centennial interval in Santa Monica’s history.

Towers of Sun is a new type of desalination plant where low-tech solar distillation is prioritized and supplemented by renewably driven reverse osmosis. Power plant and people assimilate in an uplifting visual experience, where vertical, active, and intelligent systems constantly assess and recalibrate the local dynamic environment.

The design responds directly to the eccentricity of the site and the city. By day, opaque, elegant solar antennae float on a current of energy, strategically positioned to directly respond to the local micro-climatic conditions. By night a tantalizing glimpse of striking form and color is revealed!

An extension of the promenade optimizes views to an extended sea space facing southwest, then navigates the visitor back along the loop to exciting views of the mountains and City of Santa Monica. The panoramic terrace, located at the heart of the plant, will support a dynamic public learning center, inspired by the interpretive elements at the Santa Monica Urban Runoff Recycling Facility (SMURRF). Visitors can stroll along a unique panorama, up close to the elegant sun towers, where the drama, suspense, and beauty of solar desalination are performed.

Each solar tower is a steel and glass structure that contains a vertical stack of water vessels. Solar energy heats and evaporates the seawater from the vessels, which then condensates and falls to the base of the tower.

Photovoltaic cells are grouped upon vertical masts as a screen, which rotates to follow the sun path. Energy surplus generated by the photovoltaic panels is used to power a micro desalination plant, situated at the bottom of the tower.

At the base of each tower is a buoy on the water’s surface that rises and falls with the waves. The action drives a pump system that compresses the seawater until it reaches the solar water vessels. Tidal turbines are invisible below the water’s surface to provide supplemental electricity.

This multi-dimensional installation celebrates the power of light and the energy of the ocean in all their myriad variations.

The Pipe

The Pipe
Submission to the 2016 Land Art Generator Initiative design competition for Santa Monica

Artist Team: Abdolaziz Khalili, Puya Kalili, Laleh Javaheri, Iman Khalili, Kathy Kiany (Khalili Engineers)
Artist Location: Vancouver, Canada
Energy Technologies: Photovoltaic Panels
Water Harvesting Technologies: Electromagnetic Desalination
Annual Capacity: 10,000 MWh to generate 4.5 billion liters of drinking water

From the beach, a gleaming pipe floats in the horizon. It’s a testament to our time and reminds us about our dependence on water and about our need to appreciate and value this vital gift. It also teaches us that water is plenty and nature provides. We just need to learn to work with it, keep it clean, and appreciate it.

Multiple pools of hot and cold, crystal-clear saltwater invite visitors to experience a ritual that takes them away from the stress of daily life. Relaxing on the pool deck, listening to the sound of the waves, and looking out to the ocean, visitors can be blissfully unaware of the seamless technology at work all around them.

Above, solar panels provide power to pump seawater through an electromagnetic filtration process below the pool deck, quietly providing the salt bath with its healing water and the city with clean drinking water. The Pipe represents a change in the future of water.

Water never leaves our planet. Rather it is simply displaced. Fresh water finds impurities and becomes temporarily unfit for consumption. These impurities can be visible or invisible. The visible particles can be filtered with basic procedures. It is the invisible impurities (dissolved solids) that make filtration complicated and costly.

Conventional desalination technology such as reverse osmosis uses excessive electricity, generates unwanted industrial waste and polluted water, and requires very expensive machinery.

Ninety-seven percent of seawater is pure water and only three percent is dissolved solids. All dissolved solids in water become ionized and can therefore be controlled through electromagnetic energy. Electromagnetic filtration uses an isolated electromagnetic field on pipes circulating seawater, separating the salts and impurities. The process is rapid and energy efficient.

What results are two products: pure drinkable water that is directed into the city’s primary water piping grid, and clear water with twelve percent salinity. The drinking water is piped to shore, while the salt water supplies the thermal baths before it is redirected back to the ocean through a smart release system, mitigating most of the usual problems associated with returning brine water to the sea.


Sky+Music+Fountain+Water, a submission to the 2016 Land Art Generator Initiative design competition for Santa Monica

Artist: Oliver Ong
Artist Location: Brisbane, Australia
Energy Technologies: Point Absorber Wave Energy Converter (similar to CETO™)
Annual Capacity: 6,000 MWh, less energy used for water spray effects and sea organ

The sound of a choir of dolphins and whales makes its way across the surface of the water from pipes erected in the middle of the sea. It echoes across the sea to the beach. Beautiful sprays of water accompany the chorus, their direction always changing.

A power buoy wave energy system operates under the water’s surface, safe from large storms and practically invisible from the shore. The fully submerged buoys drive pumps and generators contained within the buoy itself, with electricity delivered back to shore through subsea cables for export to the grid.

The sky + music + fountain + water buoy design uses a translucent acrylic hull illuminated to mimic jellyfish.

Some of the energy is diverted to a pump that expels water and air. The seawater creates a constantly changing fountain while air is discharged through organ pipes. Visitors can take turns conducting this choir of sound and water from an organ-like keyboard on the Santa Monica Pier.

Big Beach Balloon

Big Beach Balloon, a submission to the 2016 Land Art Generator Initiative design competition for Santa Monica

Artist: Matt Kuser
Artist Location: Carmel, USA
Energy Technologies: thin film photovoltaic
Annual Capacity: 300 MWh

High above the bustling historic pier, Big Beach Balloon gently carries excited passengers skyward to experience Santa Monica from dramatic new heights. By connecting the pier’s amusement park character below with spectacular panoramic aerial views above, the design aims to celebrate Santa Monica’s glorious location, while seamlessly harnessing one of its most abundant resources, the sun.

Cutting-edge, thin film solar technology is paired with the timeless romance of motorless flight. The tethered helium balloon, 23 meters in diameter, offer 20–30 passengers a memorable 10-minute ride up to 150 meters above the pier (or as high as the Santa Monica airport flight paths will allow).

Combining solar power generation with a new attraction at the pier is the perfect way for Santa Monica to highlight its ambitious solar initiatives in a playful way that engages people for years to come.

The spherical array of solar film allows the balloon to dynamically track the sun throughout the day. Collected energy passes through a junction box at the balloon’s suspension net, and then travels down the tether cable to the landing platform for easy connection to the central grid.

One of the most precious resources of the site is the ocean vista. Big Beach Balloon has a small footprint, leaving the majority of the proposed site and the clear horizon view from the edge of the existing pier untouched.

The design is noiseless, allowing passengers to leave the bustle of the crowds below and listen to the music of nature.


Esther, a submission to the 2016 Land Art Generator Initiative design competition for Santa Monica

Artist Team: Peter Coombe, Jennifer Sage, Eunkyoung Kim, Charlene Chai, Kaitlin Faherty (Sage and Coombe Architects)
Artist Location: New York City, USA
Energy Technologies: point absorber buoy wave energy converter (CETO™ system developed by Carnegie Wave Energy), piezoelectric stacked actuators, Fresnel-assisted convection turbine
Annual Capacity: 2,800 MWh

Esther captures the ephemerality of motion through water and air, harnessing these elements to generate purified water and clean energy. The design is conceived as two parts, an underwater point absorber buoy that harvests wave energy, and a piezoelectric torque generator “mast” that collects wind energy as it sways above water.

This two-part design takes inspiration from synchronized swimming, as epitomized by the classic aqua-musicals of Esther Williams from the golden years of Hollywood in the 1940s and 1950s. Like the swimmers in an aquatic ballet, Esther elegantly moves in unison above and below water, creating a spectacle of the periodic movements of the tides and the forces of the wind. This dynamic movement is accentuated by the reflective fiberglass material, which creates a play of shadows across the surface of the water. At the same time, the water is mirrored on the masts, reflecting a fragment of the sea into the horizon. The form of the masts is derived from the abstraction of a synchronized swimmer’s leg and aerodynamic sailing spars.

The eccentric spacing created by the elliptical formation allows viewers from the Santa Monica Pier to understand the installation as an object rather than a non-directional field, much as the bodies of synchronized swimmers collectively form an elaborate pattern. The top of the masts light up at night allowing observers to enjoy the installation at all times of the day and in all weather conditions. The light is amplified by a Fresnel lens, which sits on top of the masts and powers a small solar updraft tower during the day.

A point absorber power buoy is just below the surface of each mast generating 100 kWh of electricity every day by harnessing the ever-present wave energy within the ocean.

The masts employ technology developed for the Windulum, a piezoelectric wind turbine that transforms wind into electricity without generators while eliminating any potential hazards to birds posed by traditional wind turbines.


Aurora a submission to the 2016 Land Art Generator Initiative design competition for Santa Monica

Artist Team: Daniel Martin de los Rios and Fran Vilar Navarro (Pistach Office)
Artist Location: Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Energy Technologies: tidal turbine (similar to Open-Centre Turbine by OpenHydro™), SALt™ (Sustainable Alternative Lighting)
Water Harvesting Technologies: solar distillation (brine waste powers site lighting)
Annual Capacity: 30,000 MWh and 100 million liters of drinking water

Aurora gifts visitors a dreamlike and immersive experience of walking surrounded in a cloud with just the noise of the waves and the wind. The artworks makes palpable the ineffable, reachable the limitless, and measurable the invisible. It is a rich public space where multiple social and cultural activities can take place.

The wooden floor—an extension of the existing pier—represents stability. The cloud—coated with thermochromic paint—represents lightness and transparency. It is set up in elevation so as not to obscure the view from the beach to the horizon. Above the horizon line is a cloud that changes its shape, size, and appearance with the direction of the wind and temperature, causing boundaries to completely blur. The synesthetic impact of the artwork cannot be adequately captured with photography or film. It can only be experienced directly on location. It is formless, massless, dimensionless, and weightless. It speaks to the color of the sky, the reflection of the ocean, and the emotions of the visitors.

Aurora provides clean electricity with a tidal turbine, and drinkable water with solar distillation within the cloud. It is a hybrid system prefabricated in boxes that are set into the existing breakwater. Every element works together in a closed loop. The free flow underwater turbine system harnesses the ocean as a predictable and sustainable power source. The system transfers kinetic energy to electricity while minimizing visual impact. At the point of highest pressure is included an intake pipe to draw water up to the solar distillation process.

Following the distillation, drinking water is channeled for collection, while the brine goes to power lamps that use salt to generate electricity. The prefabricated boxes include the pillars that support the cloud along with the distillation tray and other integrated systems. The cloud works as a container of heat and water. The greenhouse effect creates a microclimate in which water evaporates and then condenses on the inside surface of the cloud skin. The Venturi effect drives the process by which water is conveyed to and from the distillation chamber.

The circle is complete, from the ocean to the sky, from the heaviness of the rock to the lightness of the air. The system is integrated as a modular, simple, and self-sufficient structure in which aesthetics, concept, energy production, and social aspects come together.

The Clear Orb

The Clear Orb, a submission to the 2016 Land Art Generator Initiative design competition for Santa Monica

Artist Team: Jaesik Lim, Ahyoung Lee, Jaeyeol Kim, Taegu Lim (Heerim Architects & Planners)
Artist Location: Seoul, South Korea
Energy Technologies: transparent luminescent solar concentrators, oscillating water column (OWC) wave energy converter
Water Harvesting Technologies: solar distillation
Annual Capacity: 3,820 MWh and 2.2 million liters of drinking water

Walking on the Santa Monica beach, The Clear Orb appears to float upon the surface of the ocean water. The colors of the sky are refracted through the translucent glass upper section, while the lower hemisphere’s reflective, mirror-like surface glitters with the sunlight playing on the ocean waves.

The installation is accessible from the Santa Monica Pier by the beach boardwalk. Walking towards it, visitors gradually recognize that the pathway slopes gently below the surface of the water. The walk is an escape from our ordinary routine and the crowed city. The outside walls of this “contemplation walk” are themselves a wave power generator installed along the existing breakwater. The inside walls along the pathway are filled with the list of extinct animals, offering an opportunity to contemplate how humans might better co-exist with nature.

At the end of the pathway, visitors reach an open square just in front of the Orb. The square located below the ocean surface creates the feeling of visual pleasure and sharp contrast of light.

The Clear Orb is a glass sphere approximately 40 meters in diameter. The surface is made up of transparent luminescent solar concentrators. These solar cells supply the power to circulate water into the Orb.

The inner space of the Orb is a solar still that produces fresh water from seawater through evaporation and condensation. Desalinated water produced within the Orb pours down through the step fountain supporting it from beneath—an artful interpretation of the power of light and water to give life.

The oscillating water column wave power plant runs along the 300-meter sea-facing edge of the “contemplation walk,” and provides additional energy to the solar distillation pumps and the electrical grid of the city.

Diagram of the Oscillating Water Column. For more information, see this page.

LAGI Glasgow Results and Exhibition

click the image above to download the LAGI Glasgow Exhibition Brochure

LAGI Glasgow will be on exhibit at The Lighthouse until July 29, 2016.

You can read more about the background of the project in our previous post: The Glasgow Model, and at the project website.

In late 2013, Chris Fremantle and Heather Claridge at Glasgow City Council put together a steering committee in Scotland with the idea of bringing the Land Art Generator Initiative to Glasgow. The project really began to take shape under the guidance of our project partners: Glasgow City Council, Scottish Canals, ecoartscotland, Bigg Regeneration, and Creative Carbon Scotland.

The design site was identified in late 2014 at Port Dundas—a beautiful drumlin along the Scottish Canal and elevated with views to the City Centre and West Glasgow. Community design workshops had already identified a vision plan into which the ideas behind the Land Art Generator Initiative merged nicely, and a conceptual masterplan was in development.

LAGI Glasgow was the perfect opportunity to begin—at just the right stage in the masterplanning process—to fully integrate renewable energy infrastructure as a fundamental component of the site plan, using open space as a great project resource and the sustainable systems as an artful public amenity that gives back in more than just environmental benefit, but also activates spaces, stimulates healthy economic development, and provides the city with a landmark icon as a symbol of a commitment to green (the project coincided with Glasgow's Green year 2015).

In August of 2015 an event brought forward the city's most talented artists, designers, architects, to meet each other at an information session that preceded an open call for expressions of interest from local creative practices. Twelve joint ventures responded, most of which included the perfect interdisciplinary cohort of artists, architects, landscape architects, renewable energy experts, and poets (we love Scotland).

Three local teams were selected in October and in November they were each paired with one of three past LAGI biennial competition participants, Peter Yeadon from LAGI 2010, Matthew Rosenberg from LAGI 2012, and Riccardo Mariano from LAGI 2014. The results of these three collaborations are really quite amazing and point the way forward for the highest standard of excellence in renewable energy design at a utility scale.

This June we were pleased to be able to announce the project selected to go forward into detailed design for construction in coordination with the ongoing masterplanning process. Wind Forest is a simple and elegant solution that incorporates a new wind energy technology into a wonderful ecological artwork and engaging city park that will mark the skyline of the city.

Wind Forest, by Dalziel + Scullion, Qmulus Ltd., Yeadon Space Agency, and ZM Architecture

The other two entries as equally as wonderful, which gave the selection committee a very difficult task.

Watergaw, by ERZ, Riccardo Mariano, and Alec Finlay

Dundas Dandilion, by Stallan Brand, Matthew Rosenberg, Pidgin Perfect, and the Glasgow Science Festival

Heather Claridge (Glasgow City Council, Senior Project Officer, Forward Planning, Development & Regeneration Services) makes opening remarks at The Lighthouse exhibition reception on June 9, 2016. The Wind Forest team was announced the winner of LAGI Glasgow.

The Wind Forest team was announced the winner of LAGI Glasgow at The Lighthouse in Glasgow on June 9, 2016. Artist Louise Scullion spoke on behalf of her team about the artistic concept behind the Wind Forest proposal.

Misleading Video Uses LAGI Infographic

We can't think about this investment in our future by what the price tag has written on it. We don't think about any other aspect of our economy that way. When we take on massive projects like highways, rails, or communications systems, we employ people and we help our economy to grow and prosper. We recirculate money invested in solar back into economies when installers spend their paychecks and solar energy companies grow. Installing solar panels is a stimulus, not a "cost."

We were recently contacted by Tech Insider with a request to use our Surface Area Require to Power the World with Solar information graphic in a new video that they have produced. You can see the piece here.

While the graphic interpretation of our original is really impressive, we are disappointed by the second half of the video that focuses on cost. The number provided by EnergySage and quoted in the video is $294 quadrillion. That is an obscenely large number. It sends the wrong message—that it will be impossible to achieve a 100% renewable energy future, and/or that we need to wait until the cost goes down. That is absolutely incorrect and we do not have time to wait.

When we agreed to let Tech Insider use our information graphic, we asked that cost not be a part of the piece for the reasons you can read in our email below to Rebecca Harrington on June 1st. She had asked us "how much do you think it would cost to construct that many solar panels?" We refused to answer the question, so she found someone who would. From our email:

...The question about cost is far more complicated than a dollar figure for four reasons that come to mind.

1. With any information graphic designed to convey a simple idea like this one, it must make decisions on what to focus on. In this case we were (for the sake of argument) ignoring other energy sources and energy system efficiency improvements (by far the easiest way to transition from carbon economies is to use less energy per capita). We ignored wind power, biofuel, hydro, wave, tidal, and all other sustainable energy sources that would form a significant part of a well-balanced post carbon energy economy. This is not something we recommend, it's just more complicated to convey all of that information in a single image. With a healthy mix of sustainable technologies powering our world, solar may comprise 20–40% of the mix.

2. If we do convert absolutely everything to solar, it will require more than just the panels themselves. It will also require storage systems and smart grids to manage power fluctuation. It will require nationalization of utility management and decentralization of energy production. This has complicated effects on cost estimation. On one hand it adds to cost because of the need for batteries, other storage mechanisms, and new power electronics. On the other hand, the efficiency of a 100% electric and distributed energy world would be far greater than a fossil fuel driven one in which so much energy is wasted at every level due to the inefficiencies of combustion power and centralized production.

3. Cost is not a useful measurement for complex economic systems and public infrastructures. Looking at it one way (the wrong way), converting to 100% renewable energy worldwide could cost trillions of dollars. But producing the more than one billion cars that we all drive and the highways we all drive them on cost us all easily ten times more than that. We shouldn't think about this investment in our future by what the price tag has written on it. We don't think about any other aspect of our economy that way. When we take on massive projects, we employ people and we help our economy to grow. We recirculate the "construction cost" back into economies when construction workers spend their paychecks. It is a stimulus, not a cost. How much did it cost to give more than half the world a personal cell phone within a span of ten years? We didn't ask the question because all along the way, companies were earning a profit by doing it. The same applies to solar panels.

4. The cost saved by eliminating fossil fuel extraction/combustion and the environmental/human health consequences of pollution and other externalities also must be factored into the equation. This will also be in the multi-trillions. When all is factored in, the answer is more likely that it will save money.

In summary, "how much will it cost" is just the wrong question to ask.

The right question to ask (once we accept that climate change is a massive problem that we must solve in the next couple of decades and solar is a powerful part of the solution) is how do we incentivize individuals and companies to want to purchase solar panels and install them in their backyards and on their rooftops? This takes top-down public policy action with incredible dividends (not costs) when we reach a point where all of our energy is generated for free by the sun (and wind, and bio, and water, etc.).

Another valid question is what will be the visual impact on our land and our built environment, and the environmental impact from the transition. These are the questions that the LAGI project is focused on asking and inspiring people to bring innovative solutions towards answering.

It's great to have more people understand the modest land use requirements for our renewable energy future, and we're thrilled to be picked up by Tech Insider, but the video that they have produced is providing dangerously misleading information.

Percent for Art for Energy

Cities that recognize the value of arts and culture have long benefited from percent for art programs. It has become expected (and in many cases required) for large-scale development projects to invest at least 1% in the arts, especially when there is public funding involved, either by bringing an artist onto the project team to produce a local outcome, or by investing in a fund that is pooled for larger projects throughout the city.

As we increase our focus on large-scale environmental and climate design solutions—resilient infrastructures, environmental remediation, regenerative water and energy projects—it is high time that a similar percent for art requirement be placed on these projects as well. This simple policy standard would bring great benefit to communities that otherwise find themselves left out of the process. Even when their net benefit to the environment is clear, if these projects have not been considered from a cultural perspective, they risk being ignored at best. And at worst they risk alienating the public and sparking push-back against similar future projects.

Involving artists in the process can instead deliver a more holistic approach to sustainability that addresses social equity, environmental justice, aesthetics, local needs, and other important cultural considerations. As we have said from the founding of LAGI in 2008, "sustainability is not only about resources, but it is also about social harmony."

Ben Twist, Director of Creative Carbon Scotland, kicks off the workshop

While in Scotland to conclude the first phase of LAGI Glasgow—with the opening of the Exhibition at The Lighthouse and the announcement of the Wind Forest proposal as the project to be taken forward—we were invited by Creative Carbon Scotland to take part in the Beautiful Renewables Practical Workshop in Edinburgh.

The idea of a Percent for Art for Energy has been on our minds for quite a while. We see this as the perfect funding mechanism to realize the kind of ideas that result from Land Art Generator Initiative design competitions and projects. So it was music to our ears to hear Inge Panneels (Artist and Lecturer at the University of Sunderland) reference percent for art as a part of the discussion at this week's workshop. Inge was attending with her colleagues to discuss one of the two case study projects, both in early stages of development. The aim was to involve an interdisciplinary group in a discussion of ways in which renewable energy infrastructure could be seamlessly integrated into these two projects through an art and placemaking approach.

Heather Claridge (Glasgow City Council, Senior Project Officer, Forward Planning, Development & Regeneration Services) talks about the LAGI Glasgow process.

We were also delighted to learn from Andrew Maybury with Community Energy Scotland about the rapid expansion of community energy groups in the UK, which are leading the charge for distributed and socially-equitable sustainable energy projects.

Chloe Uden (Arts & Energy programme manager at Regen SW) was also there to share her experience working with community energy groups and her success engaging the public with climate issues through artist collaborations. You can read more about her perspective and reflections on the day ("Every community energy group should invite an artist onto its board!") at Power Culture. We couldn't agree more!

Vestas Wind Turbine Tree

Vestas this week unveiled its 900kW four-rotor wind turbine concept being assembled in Roskilde, Denmark.

It seems very much like the concept presented by NL Architects with One Architecture and Ton Matton in 2006. Michiel Van Raaij wrote about this project in The Time is Now: Public Art of the Sustainable City, LAGI's 2010 Design Competition publication.

This vertical axis version is also by NL Architects:

The Vestas version under construction:

Bring Back Solar, Nevada!

There is a great article out this spring by Prachi Patel writing for Conservation Magazine, "Rooftop solar panels could provide nearly half US power." The report cited is from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory* (NREL).

If we are really serious about averting the worst effects of climate change and reducing the damage that we are causing the the planet right now (that will reverberate for thousands of years of future generations of people), then we should be doing all that we can to speed up the installation of solar panels on rooftops. Along with energy efficiency, using existing rooftops for solar is low-hanging fruit. Generating energy where it is used is efficient, cheaper than burning coal, and it is also more egalitarian.

In Nevada, sadly it is no longer affordable for people with sunny rooftops to start making some electricity from them because of a recent ruling by the Public Utilities Commission. This problem can be fixed (if they get enough signatures) in an upcoming referendum on the November 2016 ballot.

When someone with a sunny rooftop installs 20 solar panels up there, they will work together to generate electricity at up to 5 kW at one time, but the home owner may not be using that much electricity. When that happens, the meter runs backwards and that electricity flows into the city grid. Let's say that in one month, this homeowner sends 50 kWh into the grid. Net Metering is the relationship set up whereby the utility company buys back those 50 kWh at a rate established by the Public Utilities Commission. In almost all US states the rate is the retail rate or higher. In other words, rooftop solar owners are paid at least the same amount for energy as it would cost them to buy it. This makes it cost-effective for people to install solar panels on their rooftop.

See our blog post on how to create even more incentive by raising the national tax credit to 50%.

One way or another, we simply have got to work together to make it financially attractive for people to install solar panels on their rooftops. Energy companies must embrace distributed energy and get into the game installing it themselves, like Con Edison is doing in New York State.

The text and information graphics below are provided by Bring Back Solar, the organization that is fighting to fix the damage done to the sustainable economy by the recent decision by the PUC. Since the rule was passed, thousands of solar jobs have left the state.

Background on How We Can Rebuild Nevada’s Solar Economy

Background on Solar Jobs in Nevada
Prior to the recent decision by the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN), Nevada’s solar industry was growing at a rapid pace. The Solar Foundation estimates that, at the end of 2015, there were almost 8,700 solar jobs in the state.

In 2014 alone, Nevada added 3,500 solar jobs, more than NVE’s total employees that year. In 2015 this massive growth continued with another 2,800 jobs added, making Nevada the number one state in the county in solar jobs per capita. Solar jobs grew more than 53 times faster than the state’s average employment during the same period of time. Overall, the solar industry has created over 200,000 jobs nationwide. This is more than the oil and gas industry combined. Solar creates good-paying jobs that cannot be outsourced – rooftop solar installations by definition must occur locally.

What is Net Energy Metering?
Net metering is a policy that enables families, businesses, schools, and others who generate their own electricity from solar power to get fair credit for the benefit they provide to their communities. Net metering has been the law in Nevada since 1997 and contrary to NVE’s statement, was not just a pilot program.

Even though designed not to exceed a customer’s annual electricity demand, most solar systems produce more electricity than a solar customer can consume each day. All that extra electricity goes onto the electric grid, and the utility then sells it at full retail price to the customer’s neighbors to power their homes. As a result, when one customer in a neighborhood goes solar, the entire neighborhood ends up using solar electricity.

Net metering gives solar customers credit for the extra solar energy their systems send to the grid. In 43 states around the country, solar customers receive a dollar of credit for every dollar of energy they send to the grid for their neighbors to use.

How Does Net Metering Affect Non-Solar Customers?
Study after study, including a 2014 independent report required by the Legislature (AB 428) and commissioned by the PUCN, show that solar customers provide a positive economic benefit to all ratepayers and the grid.

Regardless of whether an individual family or business has gone solar, all customers benefit from rooftop solar because solar customers provide clean energy to their communities and utility. This reduces the need to build and maintain costly power plants and new powerlines to keep up with consumer demand. In Nevada, each solar installation creates a net benefit of $144 dollars per year for the grid – over $770,000 last year alone. This is because rooftop solar reduces the need for costly new infrastructure and sends clean energy to the grid when and where demand for energy is highest. On the other hand, about $57 dollars of each Nevadans annual bill goes towards NV Energy’s profits – which exceeded $350 million of net income in 2014.

What did the Public Utilities Commission Decide and Why is it Bad for Nevadans?
In December, the PUCN eliminated the state’s net metering policy, which affected the economic savings for current and future solar customers. The Commission increased fixed charges on all net metering customers by over 300% in order to ensure that NV Energy can maintain its guaranteed profits. This led to a reduction of customer savings by over 50%. Additionally, the PUCN reduced by over 75% the credit solar customers get for the extra energy they send to the grid. At a minimum, solar customers will pay an extra $11,000 more compared to the old net metering rules.

Even more problematic, the PUCN took the unprecedented step of not “grandfathering” existing customers; meaning it applied these new rules to existing solar customers. As a result, existing solar customers – who were encouraged by the Legislature, PUCN, and NVE to go solar – now face major changes to their rates. For most customers, these changes greatly reduce customers’ expected savings – undermining their investments– and in some cases solar customers may end up paying more than had they not gone solar at all. No other state in the nation has applied new charges to existing solar customers in this way.

How Can We Bring Back Rooftop Solar to Nevada?
On January 18, 2016, the Bring Back Solar Alliance filed a referendum petition that would reverse the PUCN’s anti-solar decision. Because our leaders failed to act, we are asking voters to bring back Nevada’s solar future and restore confidence in government at the November 2016 ballot.

Solar supporters are continuing to advocate before the PUCN to try to find a solution that protects solar jobs, energy choice, and all Nevada ratepayers. Most immediate, we are asking the PUCN to reverse its position on grandfathering, so that current solar customers can stay on their previous net metering tariff for 20 years, without suffering new punitive fees and charges.

Even if existing customers are protected with grandfathering, the state must take action before November, to immediately bring the solar industry back to Nevada. We are asking the Legislature to call a special session to find a temporary solution that brings solar back to Nevada. The Nevada legislature can resolve this problem by repealing the decision of the PUCN and returning the state to its previous NEM policy. The voters will ultimately have the final decision on the state’s long-term solar future.
To learn more about how to bring solar back to Nevada, you can visit

You can read NV Energy's side of the debate here: NV Energy.

LAGI-Kenya: Maasai Solar

Our final workshop day included a group discussion following LAGI presentation of a Boma Solar design.These sketches represented the third iteration of the solar structure design, which took into consideration the architecture of the manyatta, the traditional Maasai jewelry, and the sketches that OMWA made on the first day. Photo by Tereneh Mosley

In the winter of 2015, LAGI was contacted by Tereneh Mosley, the founder of Idia’Dega, who has been working since 2013 with Maasai Women Artisans in Olorgesailie—a remote location in South Rift Valley of Kenya where Maasai are starting to feel the pressures on land use from the outside world. One of those pressures is renewable energy infrastructure for the national grid. With excellent insolation, the land around Oloresailie is already being tapped for solar energy projects, but none of the new energy infrastructure is being planned to serve the modest needs of the local community. Rather it is being installed to serve the national grid for use in cities like Nairobi.

The work of Idia’Dega in sustainable fashion has shown that it is possible to design new products collaboratively with the Olorgesailie Maasai Women Artisans (OMWA) and other indigenous groups through processes that elevate local communities and empower them to create their own economic future on the global stage. Through her conversations with OMWA, Tereneh learned that modest electrification is something that is a pressing need—contributing to security, education, communication and creative /revenue building projects. Nearly everyone goes without light after sunset and the only way to charge cellphones is to walk an hour or more in each direction and pay someone in the nearest grid-tied village.

Building on the strong relationships and design model that Tereneh has established, Idia’Dega and LAGI have therefore embarked on a collaboration with OMWA to design culturally and aesthetically relevant solar infrastructure for off-grid Maasai homesteads. On return from our first round of design workshops we are excited to report that the ideas that resulted far exceeded our expectations. Along the translation from fashion to energy infrastructure, the group quickly realized that incorporating modest photovoltaic areas into belts, bags, bracelets, and fabrics that Maasai women and men wear during the daylight hours would be a great way to provide access to electricity at all times. In addition, small-scale solar shade structures and “banda” ornaments will provide immediate access for use within the homestead.

Over the next six months we will be fundraising and working on the detailed design drawings for fabrication, with a goal of returning in December 2016 to implement and install the multifaceted project with OMWA. Stay tuned to Idia’Dega and LAGI to see the design results. While it is most important that we provide Olorgesalie with the first products of their design efforts and meet their immediate need for electricity, we will soon thereafter be offering the designs for sale to the general public. We’re certain that everyone will want to own Maasai solar wearables and residential-scale products, and the proceeds from sales will go back to the people of Olorgesailie, helping to pay for student fees and for everyday needs for food, clothing, healthcare, and shelter that often go unmet today. Access to electricity will also help OMWA nurture their creative practice and offer the ability to connect and collaborate with other artisans around the world.

Please contact us if you are interested in supporting this project.

You can learn more about this project here:

The tiny solar light on the roof of this manyatta represents the amount of light that some of the homes currently have access to. It throws a little less than a flashlight. The manyatta's are nearly pitch dark during the day.

Maasai women of Olorgesailie Kenya take the lead in designing renewable energy installations for their homesteads.

Collapsible Turbine Blades for High Winds

Illustration courtesy of Science via

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

Collapsible Turbine Blades for High Winds

Illustration courtesy of Science via

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