There’s a chance that Abu Dhabi may build pyramids of its own, but they will serve as solar-panelled energy structures, not tombs.
Nine energy-generating structures, similar to the Great Pyramid of Cheops in Giza, but on a slightly smaller scale, are being proposed for a site close to Masdar’s carbon-neutral development at the edge of the capital.
The Lunar Cubit project, suggested as a permanent art installation to power up to 250 homes, won the UAE’s Land Art Generator Initiative (Lagi) competition last month.
The pyramids would generate about 3,500 megawatt hours per year, according to Lagi.
“If the UAE has a goal to become a forward-thinking and acting energy producer, supplier and consumer, and also a cultural epicentre, then this is a great project on both of those fronts,” said Adrian De Luca, a member of the American team of artists and renewable energy experts pitching the project.
Made of glass and amorphous silicon – a thin-film photovoltaic material – the pyramids would be positioned to also act as a sundial and lunar calendar. A 50-metre-tall central pyramid would be encircled by eight others standing 22 metres high.
During the day, the structures would cast the sun’s shadow to mark each hour. At night, LED lights would illuminate inversely to the phases of the moon, lighting up completely when the sky is black and going dark when the moon is fully visible.
Underground electrical cables would pull the energy harnessed by the outer pyramids to four 500-kilowatt inverters inside the central pyramid. That power would then be transmitted to a utility grid.
The project would pay back the cost of its construction in five years – a much shorter time than similar projects, and a fact that helped it win Lagi’s juried top prize of US$15,000 (Dh55,000) sponsored by Masdar.
There were about 200 entries from around the world for the award, which is in its first year.
“Its ability to pay back its carbon footprint much faster than a lot of the other entries, as well as its primary purpose to beautify the city and bring international interest and dollars, helped it to win,” said Robert Ferry, the co-founder of Lagi.
Lagi’s strategy is to promote sustainable solutions using public art as an education tool.