7 results for “Solar Energy”

The path towards solar democracy with Marjan van Aubel

Meike Schipper
April 25th 2019

Solar cells are often considered an eyesore, used for their sustainability yet not for their beauty. Installed on roofs or in solar parks, they take up precious space. Well that’s about it to change if it’s up to solar designer Marjan van Aubel. With her innovative take on this intriguing technology, her goal is to turn solar cells into real objects of desire.

Marjan welcomes us in her surprisingly dark studio in the basement of a floating studio building. We …

A Panda Shaped Solar Plant

Alejandro Alvarez
July 20th 2017
China recently built a panda shaped solar plant to get kids interested in green energy.

Floating Green Power

Megan Ray Nichols
June 16th 2017
Offshore renewable energy resources, such as floating solar arrays, have begun to pop up around the world.

A Floating Gym in Paris

Ruben Baart
January 10th 2017
This floating gym harnesses human energy to sail down the Seine River in Paris.

World’s “Coolest” Hotel

Ruben Baart
December 6th 2016
Sweden's new Icehotel 365 uses solar cooling to stay open all year.

Imported African Sun: Coming Soon

Alejandro Alvarez
November 30th 2016
The recently opened Noor solar power plant is now the biggest in the world. It will power Morocco and if everything goes as planned imported solar energy can be a reality too.

Egypt’s First Solar-Powered Village

Ruben Baart
October 15th 2016
This village is powered by building-integrated solar panels and provides shelter for 350 people, putting sunlight to better use.
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Solar cells are often considered an eyesore, used for their sustainability yet not for their beauty. Installed on roofs or in solar parks, they take up precious space. Well that’s about it to change if it’s up to solar designer Marjan van Aubel. With her innovative take on this intriguing technology, her goal is to turn solar cells into real objects of desire.

Marjan welcomes us in her surprisingly dark studio in the basement of a floating studio building. We laugh about the irony of the lack of light, which is her main source of inspiration. Sitting on her well-designed timber waste chairs, we talk about sustainable energy generation, solar democracy and the power of aesthetic design.

Solar democracy

Marjan has long been fascinated by colors and light. After graduating from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam she gained her MA at the Royal College of Arts in London and wrote her thesis on the characteristics of colors. Naturally, colors do not exist without light.

The designer always thought of solar panels as an interesting technology, “because of the supposed simplicity of capturing the energy of sunlight on a surface. Step by step I learned more about it and eventually it led me to focus my entire creative practice on it."

The Current Window - a modern take on stained-glass. Whilst the coloured panels of glass perform their traditional role, they also generate electricity from daylight which can then be used to power appliances indoors.

Unfortunately, the threshold to solar energy is rather high when you live in the city. “I live in the city center of Amsterdam, where it’s hard to place solar cells or connect to solar energy.” To lower the threshold, Marjan integrates solar cells into objects that can be placed in and around the house, in front of the window or in a small garden.

Her practice thus focuses on what she calls solar democracy. “I think about how to integrate solar cells into daily life and make them available for as many people as possible. It really is my mission.

It is my mission to integrate solar cells into daily life.

Cyanometer

One of those objects is the Cyanometer - a work that utilizes crystals to direct sunbeams onto solar cells, increasing its efficiency. In 2017, Marjan won the Swarovski Designers of the Future Award, which provided her the chance to collaborate with Swarovski.

Cyanometer takes its name from the 1789 invention which was used to measure the color of the sky. The solar crystal harvests energy during the day and powers itself by night. The stones used for the ring-shaped installation are opals, which scatter the light in the same way that the sky does.

Detail of the Cyanometer Collection with Swarovski opals.

It became a success and the collaboration continued. Just last week Marjan presented the new Cyanometer collection at Milan Design Week 2019. “We developed the Cyanometer into a product”, Marjan enthusiastically explains. “This collection includes 3 lights, standing, hanging and wall mounted, that are part of Swarovksi’s Chrystal Palace lighting collection.

This development of innovative concepts into functional products is a strong characteristic of her work. “I do not design to simply tell a story. Instead, I want to reach a larger audience and create useful products.” In order to create feasible designs with solar panels, Marjan often collaborates with universities, scientists, architects and alike.

Invisible visiblity

Inspired by Next Nature’s Pyramid of Technology, Marjan aims to turn solar cells into an invisible and naturalized technology. “Right now, solar cells are a technology that are often placed upon an object, but are not integrated in it. I want solar cells to feel natural—because good design is invisible.”

I want solar cells to feel natural—because good design is invisible.

Still, visibility seems key to make solar cells into objects of desire. Marjan compares it to the way we relate to cars. “Cars are not just a way of transportation; they are a lifestyle. If you drive a Tesla, you are supposed to be a certain type of person.” The same relation could be established with technologies of energy generation.

“At current we have electric outlets in our homes, but the energy is generated elsewhere. If you are connected to green energy, no one will know. It is only visible on your bill. Solar cells are a way to generate energy close to home, so we can we can experience it.” By making energy generation visible and attractively designed, it becomes part of a certain lifestyle.

The Current Table, the first piece of furniture that is able to harvest energy indoors.

Marjan’s Current Table is the Tesla among furniture. The table has an integrated solar panel with increased sensitivity, which makes the Current Table into the first piece of furniture that is able to harvest energy indoors.

The design reveals the tension between the wish for invisibility and the need for visibility. “Of course, I did not want the Current Table to become a simple solar cell on legs. Still, it does need to be recognizable in some way. If people don’t recognize anything, it becomes too abstract.” The USB port that is included in the table makes it easier for people to recognize it as something they can charge their phones with.

Power Plant

Aside from products that fit within our direct living environment, Marjan wonders how solar cells can be integrated in different industries. Think about agrotechnology. The field is developing quickly, and new technologies are focusing on effective and fast production of our foods. However, minute climate control and lighting systems cost a lot of energy. And that’s where the solar designer comes in.

Teaming up with The New Institute, architect Emma Elston, researcher Yasmine Ostendorf, Physee and University of Amsterdam, Marjan developed world’s first self-powering greenhouse called Power Plant. The Power Plant harnesses the power of design to improve both food production and decrease energy consumption, creating the perfect environment for the plants of the future.

The team implemented solar panels directly into the architecture of the greenhouse to simultaneously harvest both energy and food. As such, the Power Plant is fully able to power its indoor climate. A hydroponic systems pumps around nutrient water, which saves up to 90% water usage. The blue LED lights enhance leave growth and the red LEDs encourages the plants to flower. Utilizing these characteristics of colored lights in addition to sunlight, the Power Plant increases the yield up to 40 times.

https://vimeo.com/275812869

Again, the concept of solar democracy is central to the design. The Power Plant can be placed onto rooftops in order to grow the food directly where it is needed: the city. Local produce cuts out transportation costs and establishes a stronger connection between the people and their food. Marjan is now in conversation with parties in Shanghai and New York to implement Power Plant there.

According to the solar designer, beautiful and effective design do not necessarily have to be opposites. She is constantly looking for the ultimate balance between form and function.

Beautiful and effective design do not have to be opposites.

“The angle of the Power Plant greenhouse is 39 degrees because in The Netherlands it is the most effective angle to capture sunlight. The plants are positioned diagonal because water only needs to be pumped upwards once, and it streams back down while watering the plants. These are the type of choices that I make continuously. I want efficiency, but there’s always a margin which allows you to play."

Future energy

What about the future of energy? “The ideal situation would be that we generate all of our energy from inexhaustible sources, such as wind and the sun. Energy could and should be free.”

But before we arrive there, changes have to be made on a lot of levels. Solar cells have to be produced in less damaging ways that are CO2 neutral. Then, we could produce crops on demand and reduce food waste.

“In essence, life is a very complex energy transition,” Marjan concludes. “Being sustainable is just like breathing; we don’t have a choice. We have to think about the source of our energy.”

[post_title] => The path towards solar democracy with Marjan van Aubel [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => interview-marjan-van-aubel [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-04-26 13:48:18 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-04-26 12:48:18 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=110636 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 76296 [post_author] => 874 [post_date] => 2017-07-20 10:00:35 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-20 08:00:35 [post_content] => Given, the real solar plant is less cartoonish than the artist's rendering above, but the final result is equally astonishing. We already know that China has a thing for pandas, but their latest solar plant is something you have never seen it before. In the last years, China has become one of the mayor investors in renewables and with that great changes to the landscape are inevitable. Apparently turning boring geometrical fields into cute animals is one of them.Peculiar image of the week. Via Vox and Snopes [post_title] => A Panda Shaped Solar Plant [post_excerpt] => China recently built a panda shaped solar plant to get kids interested in green energy. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => panda-shaped-solar-plant [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-19 10:14:23 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-19 08:14:23 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=76296/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 75613 [post_author] => 872 [post_date] => 2017-06-16 11:57:27 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-16 09:57:27 [post_content] => The renewable energy industry has grown a lot in recent years. It continues to expand, not just in numbers, but also into new types of environments. Offshore renewable energy resources, such as floating solar arrays, have begun to pop up around the world.Benefits of Floating SolarFloating solar farms provide countries that have limited space on land with somewhere to capture solar energy. They also allow underutilized areas, such as dam reservoirs, to become highly valuable power-generating stations.Floating systems may also perform better than arrays built on land. Solar systems installed on water will be cooler due to evaporating water, which causes them to operate more efficiently. According to a study by Korea Water Resources Corporation, a floating array could be 11% more productive than land-based systems.How It WorksFloating solar panels are attached to interconnected, plastic rafts that allow them to stay on top of the water. There are often floating walkways so workers can reach the solar panels.To operate in and around water, the materials used need to be made for marine environments. While inverters are typically located on shore, the wires used must be submersible or buoyed by flotation devices.Floating solar arrays need to include a number of features that protect them from the elements. The arrays also need to be strong enough to stay together. The last thing the owner needs is for a panel to go adrift. If there is a risk of the water freezing, there has to be some give in the anchoring system that allows them to rest on top of ice. Some arrays are also designed to be able to withstand small waves and fairly strong winds.While solar panels aren’t quite ready to be installed on the open ocean yet due to the damage sea salt and tall waves can cause to them, technological advancements may allow that in the future. Until then, lakes provide the perfect placement for these systems.Floating Solar Around the WorldFloating solar plants are already a reality in various countries around the world including Japan, China, France, Indonesia and Singapore. And there is a potential demand in many other places, especially islands and regions with lots of water. They are showing they have what it takes to be the next big wave in solar power, and technological advancements may make them even more prevalent in the future.Image: Business Wire [post_title] => Floating Green Power [post_excerpt] => Offshore renewable energy resources, such as floating solar arrays, have begun to pop up around the world. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => floating-solar-arrays [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-20 13:05:33 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-20 11:05:33 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=75613/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 70373 [post_author] => 873 [post_date] => 2017-01-10 16:09:44 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-01-10 15:09:44 [post_content] => The episode ‘Fifteen Million Merits’ of the British TV series Black Mirror depicts a future world where everyone must cycle on exercise bikes to power their surroundings. This fiction could become reality with the latest concept by Italian design firm Carlo Ratti Associati. They envisioned a floating gym that harnesses human energy to sail down the Seine River in Paris.The Paris Navigating Gym serves as a transportation concept that aims to portray how human energy holds the potential to power vehicles in the future. Instead of touring people around in its beloved Bateaux Mouches ferry-like boat appearance, the gym boat sets out to inspire people to exercise more. “It’s fascinating to see how the energy generated by a workout at the gym can actually help to propel a boat. It provides one with a tangible experience of what lies behind the often abstract notion of ‘electric power” says Carlo Ratti.Besides generating energy from its occupants, who use ARTIS bikes and cross trainers to power the boat, the floating construction would be equipped with supplementary solar panels. It’s still in development, but the designers estimate to complete it within 18 months.Source: Inhabitat [post_title] => A Floating Gym in Paris [post_excerpt] => This floating gym harnesses human energy to sail down the Seine River in Paris. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => floating-gym-paris [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-01-12 13:18:18 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-01-12 12:18:18 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=70373/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 69203 [post_author] => 873 [post_date] => 2016-12-06 12:59:28 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-12-06 11:59:28 [post_content] => Since 1979 we have been using satellites to measure Arctic sea ice levels, which have been warning us about the alarming decrease of ice growth. Climate models predict that by 2040, the Arctic Bay will continue to freeze in winter, but could be free of ice in summer. Now imagine an ice hotel in this scenario that melts away every year.Initially founded as a pop-up hotel in 1989 in the Swedish village of Jukkasjärvi, 200 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle, the Icehotel used to open exclusively during the winter season. But from last month, a whole new icy experience was added to the original plan, the hotel became permanent, welcoming guests throughout the whole year.Similar to its seasonal counterpart, the hotel-igloo hybrid takes up 2.100 square meters, becoming part of the landscape. What differentiates the two is that the year-round experience is achieved thanks to 600 square meters of solar panels, which will generate 75 KW of electricity during the summer period and prevent it from melting.The Icehotel 365 is situated next to the original structure and is made of 30.000 liters of ‘snice’, a combination of snow and ice. With its average indoor temperature of five degrees below zero, the hotel offers 20 artsy suites, where guests are offered a bed made of - you guessed it - ice. We no longer need to buy polar ice to remind us of the period when ice caps used to exist on Earth, we can visit the Icehotel.Source: CNTraveler [post_title] => World's "Coolest" Hotel [post_excerpt] => Sweden's new Icehotel 365 uses solar cooling to stay open all year. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => worlds-coolest-hotel [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-12-09 10:48:14 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-12-09 09:48:14 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=69203 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 68957 [post_author] => 874 [post_date] => 2016-11-30 15:46:04 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-11-30 14:46:04 [post_content] => The moroccan town of Ouarzazate became famous when his desertic landscapes and sunny weather atracted Hollywood producers to film movies like Lawrence of Arabia, Star Wars and Gladiator. Now it's time for it to shine with a new light. The recently opened Noor solar power plant is the biggest in the world. It will power Morocco and, if everything goes as planned, will make imported solar energy a reality.Since this country is the largest importer of fossil fuels in the Middle East and North Africa, in 2009 they launched a program to source their power requirements from renewable energy. By 2020 they hope to generate 14% of their energy consumption from solar stations and the plan is to go up to 20% by 2030.Besides changing the landscape and providing clean energy, this plant is already making a positive change in the ife of the neighbouring inhabitants. Hundreds of locals, that used to travel to nearby bigger cities for work, were employed in the construction of the plant. And now that it is finished there are plans to produce the solar panels in the town - instead of buying them from abroad - in order to generate permanent jobs.The whole idea is an excellent example of how it's possible not only to provide clean energy, but also to create new opportunities for the development to people. This positive change can go beyond the frontiers of North Africa, as Mustapha Sellam, the site manager of the plant, says: “Our main goal is to become energy-independent but if one day we are producing a surplus we could supply other countries too”.Altogether, doing similar projects in countries that can enjoy the sunlight throughout the whole year could be the begining of a world powered by clean energy, even if the sun doesn't shine in your country every day.Source: BBC [post_title] => Imported African Sun: Coming Soon [post_excerpt] => The recently opened Noor solar power plant is now the biggest in the world. It will power Morocco and if everything goes as planned imported solar energy can be a reality too. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => imported-african-sun-coming-soon [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-12-02 11:41:31 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-12-02 10:41:31 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=68957 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 67072 [post_author] => 873 [post_date] => 2016-10-15 12:54:16 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-10-15 10:54:16 [post_content] => It's safe to say there is no shortage of sunlight in the Egyptian desert. While a desert is often seen as a hostile living environment, a village situated around the Bahariya Oasis is demonstrating the contrary. The so-called Tayebat Workers Village is powered by building-integrated solar panels and provides shelter for 350 people, putting sunlight to better use.The village serves as the campus for solar technology company KarmBuild, which reportedly is "the only company in Egypt to integrate solar technology into a building's design". The small town was built with 90 percent local natural materials, including sandstone which was used to construct the buildings.This village is powered by building-integrated solar panels and provides shelter for 350 people, putting sunlight to better use.According to architect Karim Kafrawi, in Egypt solar panels are often regarded as unappealing, and “not practical in architecture integration”. KarmBuild’s innovative methods could revert those unfavorable views. Moreover, the solar panels act as "thermal roof protection", according to Kafrawi."The idea was to create an architectural character that would smoothly blend into the natural landscape so that from a distance, this rather large building would be discreet, almost invisible expect for the towering stone structures highlighted by the P.V. solar panels reflecting the sky and sun" he said.This village is powered by building-integrated solar panels and provides shelter for 350 people, putting sunlight to better use.The choice of a construction technique that helps reduce waste also brings down the costs. The Tayebat Workers Village project is not only a great step towards providing shelter, but it also contributes to sustainable living situations for the inhabitants of the desert.Source: Inhabitat [post_title] => Egypt's First Solar-Powered Village [post_excerpt] => This village is powered by building-integrated solar panels and provides shelter for 350 people, putting sunlight to better use. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => egypts-first-solar-powered-village [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-09 12:05:29 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-09 11:05:29 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=66661 [menu_order] => 66 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 ))[post_count] => 7 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 110636 [post_author] => 1666 [post_date] => 2019-04-25 15:30:28 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-04-25 14:30:28 [post_content] =>

Solar cells are often considered an eyesore, used for their sustainability yet not for their beauty. Installed on roofs or in solar parks, they take up precious space. Well that’s about it to change if it’s up to solar designer Marjan van Aubel. With her innovative take on this intriguing technology, her goal is to turn solar cells into real objects of desire.

Marjan welcomes us in her surprisingly dark studio in the basement of a floating studio building. We laugh about the irony of the lack of light, which is her main source of inspiration. Sitting on her well-designed timber waste chairs, we talk about sustainable energy generation, solar democracy and the power of aesthetic design.

Solar democracy

Marjan has long been fascinated by colors and light. After graduating from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam she gained her MA at the Royal College of Arts in London and wrote her thesis on the characteristics of colors. Naturally, colors do not exist without light.

The designer always thought of solar panels as an interesting technology, “because of the supposed simplicity of capturing the energy of sunlight on a surface. Step by step I learned more about it and eventually it led me to focus my entire creative practice on it."

The Current Window - a modern take on stained-glass. Whilst the coloured panels of glass perform their traditional role, they also generate electricity from daylight which can then be used to power appliances indoors.

Unfortunately, the threshold to solar energy is rather high when you live in the city. “I live in the city center of Amsterdam, where it’s hard to place solar cells or connect to solar energy.” To lower the threshold, Marjan integrates solar cells into objects that can be placed in and around the house, in front of the window or in a small garden.

Her practice thus focuses on what she calls solar democracy. “I think about how to integrate solar cells into daily life and make them available for as many people as possible. It really is my mission.

It is my mission to integrate solar cells into daily life.

Cyanometer

One of those objects is the Cyanometer - a work that utilizes crystals to direct sunbeams onto solar cells, increasing its efficiency. In 2017, Marjan won the Swarovski Designers of the Future Award, which provided her the chance to collaborate with Swarovski.

Cyanometer takes its name from the 1789 invention which was used to measure the color of the sky. The solar crystal harvests energy during the day and powers itself by night. The stones used for the ring-shaped installation are opals, which scatter the light in the same way that the sky does.

Detail of the Cyanometer Collection with Swarovski opals.

It became a success and the collaboration continued. Just last week Marjan presented the new Cyanometer collection at Milan Design Week 2019. “We developed the Cyanometer into a product”, Marjan enthusiastically explains. “This collection includes 3 lights, standing, hanging and wall mounted, that are part of Swarovksi’s Chrystal Palace lighting collection.

This development of innovative concepts into functional products is a strong characteristic of her work. “I do not design to simply tell a story. Instead, I want to reach a larger audience and create useful products.” In order to create feasible designs with solar panels, Marjan often collaborates with universities, scientists, architects and alike.

Invisible visiblity

Inspired by Next Nature’s Pyramid of Technology, Marjan aims to turn solar cells into an invisible and naturalized technology. “Right now, solar cells are a technology that are often placed upon an object, but are not integrated in it. I want solar cells to feel natural—because good design is invisible.”

I want solar cells to feel natural—because good design is invisible.

Still, visibility seems key to make solar cells into objects of desire. Marjan compares it to the way we relate to cars. “Cars are not just a way of transportation; they are a lifestyle. If you drive a Tesla, you are supposed to be a certain type of person.” The same relation could be established with technologies of energy generation.

“At current we have electric outlets in our homes, but the energy is generated elsewhere. If you are connected to green energy, no one will know. It is only visible on your bill. Solar cells are a way to generate energy close to home, so we can we can experience it.” By making energy generation visible and attractively designed, it becomes part of a certain lifestyle.

The Current Table, the first piece of furniture that is able to harvest energy indoors.

Marjan’s Current Table is the Tesla among furniture. The table has an integrated solar panel with increased sensitivity, which makes the Current Table into the first piece of furniture that is able to harvest energy indoors.

The design reveals the tension between the wish for invisibility and the need for visibility. “Of course, I did not want the Current Table to become a simple solar cell on legs. Still, it does need to be recognizable in some way. If people don’t recognize anything, it becomes too abstract.” The USB port that is included in the table makes it easier for people to recognize it as something they can charge their phones with.

Power Plant

Aside from products that fit within our direct living environment, Marjan wonders how solar cells can be integrated in different industries. Think about agrotechnology. The field is developing quickly, and new technologies are focusing on effective and fast production of our foods. However, minute climate control and lighting systems cost a lot of energy. And that’s where the solar designer comes in.

Teaming up with The New Institute, architect Emma Elston, researcher Yasmine Ostendorf, Physee and University of Amsterdam, Marjan developed world’s first self-powering greenhouse called Power Plant. The Power Plant harnesses the power of design to improve both food production and decrease energy consumption, creating the perfect environment for the plants of the future.

The team implemented solar panels directly into the architecture of the greenhouse to simultaneously harvest both energy and food. As such, the Power Plant is fully able to power its indoor climate. A hydroponic systems pumps around nutrient water, which saves up to 90% water usage. The blue LED lights enhance leave growth and the red LEDs encourages the plants to flower. Utilizing these characteristics of colored lights in addition to sunlight, the Power Plant increases the yield up to 40 times.

https://vimeo.com/275812869

Again, the concept of solar democracy is central to the design. The Power Plant can be placed onto rooftops in order to grow the food directly where it is needed: the city. Local produce cuts out transportation costs and establishes a stronger connection between the people and their food. Marjan is now in conversation with parties in Shanghai and New York to implement Power Plant there.

According to the solar designer, beautiful and effective design do not necessarily have to be opposites. She is constantly looking for the ultimate balance between form and function.

Beautiful and effective design do not have to be opposites.

“The angle of the Power Plant greenhouse is 39 degrees because in The Netherlands it is the most effective angle to capture sunlight. The plants are positioned diagonal because water only needs to be pumped upwards once, and it streams back down while watering the plants. These are the type of choices that I make continuously. I want efficiency, but there’s always a margin which allows you to play."

Future energy

What about the future of energy? “The ideal situation would be that we generate all of our energy from inexhaustible sources, such as wind and the sun. Energy could and should be free.”

But before we arrive there, changes have to be made on a lot of levels. Solar cells have to be produced in less damaging ways that are CO2 neutral. Then, we could produce crops on demand and reduce food waste.

“In essence, life is a very complex energy transition,” Marjan concludes. “Being sustainable is just like breathing; we don’t have a choice. We have to think about the source of our energy.”

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