The future of solar energy is right around the corner— and it's shaped like a giant duck.
Since about 30% of that the sun's output just uselessly bounces back into space once it's done here on Earth, given modern fossil fuel anxieties, it makes perfect sense that solar energy is the hottest area of sustainable energy infrastructure. As of 2013, in the U.S. alone, the industry was valued at $13.7 billion.
But there's one thing this budding business has faced a serious lack of in recent years: ducks.
"Ducks?" you might say. Ducks. Fortunately, this unacceptable situation may be remedied in the near future, with an innovation that kills two birds with one concept: a duck-shaped photovoltaic structure that has made its way into the Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Conceived by London artists Hareth Pochee, Adam Khan, Louis Leger, and Patrick Fryer, the so-called Energy Duck would be topped with a photovoltaic mesh, gathering energy from the sun and funneling it directly into the Copenhagen power grid. Supplemented with an innovative hybrid hydrolic turbine system, when extra energy needs to be delivered— at night, for instance— the duck floods its base, transfering the water through its turbines to generate more electricity. Then next day, it uses energy generated through the solar panels to pump the water back out. A fun consequence of this design is that the duck rises and sinks depending on how much energy it needs to pump into the Danish capital city.
Based off the shape of the local eider duck, which finds its habitat in danger because of climate change, Energy Duck is part of a concentrated effort to solve climate change, and a fascinating symbol of environmental awareness. Also a floating public space, which would allow visitors to munch a sandwich or meet for coffee atop it Energy Duck seems awesome— and just crazy enough to work— but it has some stiff competition. A giant solar wheel that follows the sun, a sail-shaped wind power generator, and an eco-friendly algae-powered turbine are all also up for the $20,000 prize.
If the Energy Duck team doesn't win the competition, perhaps they'll try again next year with a photovoltaic badger?