New Solar Power Plant Design Not Boring

A 1.74 megawatt (MW) capacity, utility scale power plant in the form of nine monolithic pyramids? It may sound like some kind of fantastic concept design, but no, this is a real project, slated for a real place. (Abu Dhabi, of course.)

The ‘lunar cubit‘ project (which comes to us by way of Designboom) is the winning proposal from the 2010 United Arab Emirates design competition for energy generating public art known as the Land Art Generator Initiative. Having beat out both the Parakite Farm the solar-powered Light Sanctuary for top honors, it is slated now for construction outside Masdar City.

lunar cubit 1

image via Designboom

Composed in the world’s first known standard of measure, the cubit, each of the nine pyramids in the cluster were designed with proportions matching those of the Great Pyramid at Giza. They’re composed of glass and amorphous silicon, giving them the appearance of polished onyx, as well as thin-film, frameless solar panels and a large number of tiny, energy efficient LEDs bulbs.

Eight pyramids are arranged in a ring around a central, larger pyramid, and these light up at night in inverse proportion to the moon’s cycles. As in, when the night sky is at its darkest, this solar art installation is at its brightest, and when the the full moon illuminates the night sky, these pyramids go dark. In between, the pyramids offer partical illumination, in accordance with the waxing or waning of the moon.

lunar cubit 2

image via Designboom

Visitors are encouraged to actually walk amongst these pyramids and experience them as an art installation, both by day and by night–an act that may prove so engrossing that people actually forget these structures have a practical purpose, generating a full 1.74 MWs of solar energy and supplying it directly to the local grid.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.

1 Comment

  • Reply February 10, 2011


    That is definitely an amazing project! I wish we would do such big projects in the US.

    I mean we do have some solar power plants. Problem is that the really big and innovative stuff gets blocked by some politicians…

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