The UAE may be built on profits reaped from its oil-rich sands, but out of the region’s vast deserts rises a new vision for a solar farm unlike any we have seen before. Conceived by Martina Decker and Peter Yeadon, the Light Sanctuary is an elegantly unfurling ribbon of solar thin-film panels designed to take advantage of Dubai’s immense solar resources. The project is composed of a new type of thin-film dye-sensitized solar cells with suspended walls that curl and undulate across the desert landscape, mimicking a mirage from afar and creating an immersive and sensual experience up close.
The project is much more than a standard solar farm — it is an art installation that sparks a conversation on the topics of renewable technologies, site-specific installation and audience immersion. While the solar cells would capture more energy in a different configuration, the sensual and contemplative environment captures not only usable solar energy but the human imagination and spirit. The installation is suspended in the air to reduce its impact on the natural environment and settle it in a space between the land and sky.
The unique vertical orientation of the solar ribbons capitalizes on the ability of the semi-translucent thin film panels to produce useful energy at a steep angle of solar exposure. This allows for energy production over a longer period throughout the day, and the panels also get a boost from reflected light off the high-albedo landscape. The thin film solar cells perform much better in the high-temperature conditions than silicone solar panels. The total estimated power production of the project is 4592 megawatts.