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Gigantic ‘Energy Duck’ Could Generate Solar and Hydro Power for Copenhagen
The Energy Duck is modeled on the common eider duck, which is found in the waters of Copenhagen. Unfortunately, the eider’s breeding habitat is at risk from the effects of climate change, so the team decided to use its form to raise awareness of the local impacts of a global issue. The appealing, 12-storey high sculpture is proposed to float in the waters of the city’s harbor. It would be constructed from a lightweight steel frame, with very lightweight steel supporting a skin of photovoltaic panels and dummy panels.
Some of the electricity generated by the low-cost, off-the-shelf PV panels would be stored in the form of gravitational potential energy via water pressure. That is, energy is stored by virtue of the difference in water heights inside and outside the duck. The team states: “At night, when there is no solar radiation, the water pressure can be released through hydro turbines within the duck’s belly providing renewable electricity at all times. The floating height of the duck is an indicator of the amount of city-wide energy use relative to the renewable generation.” Both the solar- and hydro-generated power produced would be fed to the city grid, as per the requirements of the competition, and the energy yield would be 75 percent of that of a fully optimized solar farm on the same site. At night the duck would be lit with very low power LED lamps that change color, with the color pattern undulating in a rhythm proportional to the output of the hydro turbines.
Visitors to the sculpture would be able to move around inside the duck through an enormous honeycomb mesh of lightweight steel. Above would be the pattern of a mesh of PV panels in silhouette, backlit by light streaming in through the gaps. Below, visitors would be able to see the sea water rising and falling within the pressure storage tanks. Of their submission the team states: “Often the prospective negative environmental effects of climate change, brought about by excessive CO2 emissions can seem a removed and distant issue. Energy Duck frames the issue of climate change, ecology and the importance of renewable energy in a local context.”
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