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Celebrating the Beauty of Renewable Energy

Renewable Energy

Land Art Generator Initiative

This article is the latest in our series #Art4Climate, a joint initiative by the UNFCCC secretariat and Julie’s Bicycle on the work of artists who make the issue of climate change more accessible and understandable by featuring it in their work. It was inspired by a session at the Salzburg Global Seminar in early 2017.

Every two years, the “Land Art Generator Initiative” celebrates sustainable design projects from around the world to show that art, combined with technology, can help pave the way to a clean energy future. As part of a competition, the initiative invites artists and architects, as well as scientists and engineers, to work together to design public art installations that also serve as renewable energy generators.

Under the slogan “Renewable energy can be beautiful,” the Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) has showcased more than 800 innovative designs from countries ranging from India to the United States since its inception in 2010. While fostering creativity, the initiative also contributes to raise awareness on renewable energy as a way to meet the central goal of the Paris Agreement, which is to hold the global average temperature rise to as close as possible to 1.5°C.

“If we are going to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement, then the visual and cultural impact of renewable energy infrastructures must be addressed as a part of a strategy for accelerating progress,” says Elizabeth Monoian, Founding Co-Director and CEO of LAGI.

For example,The “Solar Hourglass”, the winning design of LAGI 2014 in Copenhagen, is a great example of how these art installations merge creativity, functionality and advocacy. The design has an annual capacity of 7,500 MWh, which is enough to power 1,000 homes, and its hourglass shape aims at reminding the public of the urgency to take climate action in order to limit the effects of climate change.

“The Solar Hourglass”, by Santiago Muros Cortés, was the winning submission of LAGI 2014 in Copenhagen.

Art Installations That Produce Renewable Energy

The creators of LAGI were inspired to start the initiative by what they saw in the United Arab Emirates. Robert Ferry, Founding Co-Director, explains: “In 2008 we were living in Dubai and witnessing the rapid pace of development with ever-taller towers of glass reaching towards the untapped desert sun. It seemed to us that these superlatives of growth and luxury could be harnessed to achieve superlatives of sustainability and decarbonization if we could somehow capture the public’s imagination.”

With wind turbines and solar stations sprouting around the world, the visual impact of renewable energy installations on landscapes has become an increasingly important component of the sustainability discussion. As more cities, regions and countries engage in the transition towards clean energy, LAGI encourages the world to reflect upon the aesthetics of these energy installations.

“Beyond the Wave” is an installation designed by Jaesik Lim, Ahyoung Lee, Sunpil Choi, Dohyoung Kim, Hoeyoung Jung, Jaeyeol Kim and Hansaem Kim. The design combines flexible poles, which generate energy through kinetic harvesting, and ribbons producing energy through organic photovoltaics.

Designs to Raise Awareness on Climate Change

Land art generators also provide a venue for the public to learn more about the technologies used by renewable energy infrastructures, and contribute to education on climate change. This aspect is key in order to fully empower people to take greater action at every level. “It is never purely art for art’s sake. It is always for human’s sake,” says Elizabeth Monoian.

“For decades the environmental art movement has presented powerful messages that have opened people’s eyes to the severity of climate change. Art has the power to speak directly to the hearts of people and create a momentum for political will to action,” the co-directors of LAGI said. They hope that future generations will look back on the renewable energy landscapes of the 21st century as the newest wonders of the world.

Elizabeth Monoian and Robert Ferry say they are now ready to take the project to the next step, and begin the construction and commissioning of land art generator power plants around the world. The previous edition of the biennial competition was held in Southern California, and the venue for the 2018 edition will be announced soon.

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