Sunday, August 10, 2008

Water Power

It was interesting, in some research for a project at work, I looked up the cost of water in Portland to calculate the additional cost of irrigation for expanded landscape area on a rooftop. The idea was that we needed to factor in the additional cost of 20000 gallons of water to be used for irrigation for a season... which to my surprise, came to around $500 per year (total commercial cost)... a pittance for that quantity and quality of water found here in Portland.

Changing gears a bit from the economics of this resource... let's take the idea of our waterways and think of them as a very, renewable resource... not for regenerating water via the hydrological cycle - but, say for generating energy. From the small, medium, large, and perhaps citywide... there are options. First, a small-scale version of an aerating fountain - with a range of potential options on site scale:

:: image via Sunmotor

A pair by Inhabitat... Solar Lily and Floatovoltaics - offers some expanded possibilities for water-borne electrical generation... think of the oceans... wave generation on the bottom, wind and solar on top... and all that square floating footage... First the Far Niente winery from Napa - with floating solar panels on pontoons.

:: images via Inhabitat

A more poetic (and adaptable perhaps) version - from the International Design Awards and designer Peter Richardson: "In cities all over the world there are disused water ways, canals and rivers.Often they become the focus for regeneration and for most people offer an improved quality of life and environment. Our project proposes to stimulate river activity and change by proposing that the surface is used to harness the power of Solar energy on a large scale. The energy created can be easily transformed and exported to the grid and will reduce the carbon footprint of the city. The idea references large lilypads that are optimised for efficient photosynthesis, so the design is inspired by nature. They can be moved and dismantled and are simply tethered to the river bed, integrated motors can rotate the discs so their orientation to the sun is maximised throughout the day. "

:: images via International Design Awards

The inspiration...

:: images via International Design Awards

Perhaps this can expand beyond this scale, to a citywide iconography, similar to the floating Maple Leaf by West 8 in Toronto... see it as solar, it definitely works. Think about the dual purpose floating icon and solar generator for every town...

:: images via Eikongraphia

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