The Big Apple’s known for its bright lights, but the city’s iconic luminescence also sucks up huge amounts of power every year. Luckily, a team of designers came up with a plan to keep the city’s lights burning bright by harnessing the power of its massive rivers. One of the most exciting entries into Metropolis magazine’s 2009 Next Generation Design Competition, Richard Garber and Brian Novello’s design provides a way to power street lamps using tidal power.
The ambitious scheme would involve creating “Docking Systems” that would essentially extend New York’s existing piers by adding a network of floating, modular docks. The docks’ undersides come equipped with three vertical turbines that harness energy from moving river currents and create electricity. The power produced would then be used to light a network of LED street lamps. The designers claim that each module could produce up to 24 kilowatts of power from a 4 mph current moving in any direction. Additionally, the docks would feature green spaces and tidal pools that support wildlife, making them both efficient and aesthetically pleasing.
The Docking Stations plan was created as part of Metropolis magazine’s 2009 Next Generation Design Competition, which focused this year on the question of how to fix America’s energy addiction. Though Garber’s and Novello’s design didn’t earn the grand prize, it was still featured on the magazine’s Web site as one of the most innovative entries.
As of now, NYC has no plans to actually implement Docking Stations, although the city is already testing out their own tidal power stations. The Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy Project (RITE) began in 2002 and has just finished up its demonstration phase. The project, run by Verdant Power, places Free Flow Kinetic Hydropower Systems in the East River. The horizontal turbines then harness energy from a moving current to create clean electricity. However, designers of the Docking Stations say that their design offers an advantage over the RITE system because its vertical turbines spin regardless of the water current’s direction—RITE only works in a certain type of current.
And while Docking Stations may be just a concept for now, we’re guessing that tidal power will only become a larger part of New York City’s green energy plans. After all, the metropolis boasts 578 miles of waterfront—prime real estate for more underwater, silent power generators.