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Top 6 Most Beautiful Renewable Energy Solutions

Top 6 Most Beautiful
Renewable Energy Solutions

by TODD STOLARSKI | April 13, 2015

During your last, long, family road trip, you likely drove past at least one wind farm filled with spinning turbines. You may even have a green enviro-pal who had a solar panel installed on the roof of his or her house. On a larger scale, more architects and engineers now seem to be using their ingenuity to bring a different slant and even elegance to the functional world of sustainable energy. Here are six of the most forward-thinking, creative renewable energy solutions in our built world.

1. NewWind's Aero-Leaf - Paris, France

Entrepreneur Jerome Michaud-Lariviere has taken a different approach to harvesting renewable energy. His aptly named firm, NewWind, so far has built two prototypes based on biometrics; the emulation of nature to solve existing problems. His 12-m-tall "trees" (above) feature the Aero-Leaf, a 27-in-tall cone with a vertical axis that allows it to boast both silence and a rapid reaction time. Each tree can produce enough juice to power an electric car recharging station, 15 streetlights, or one single-family home. NewWind estimates the cost of each at about $28K. Later this year, one will be installed in downtown Paris, in advance of December's UN Climate Change Conference in December. The hope is that the Aero-Leaf, on display, will capture the hearts of climate change leaders from around the globe. Yes, the winds of change will be blowing down the Champs Elysee in eight months -- but nobody can hear them coming!

2. Seville's Solar Power Tower - Seville, Spain

In the countryside on the outskirts of Spain's fourth largest city, Seville, sits Europe's first commercial solar station, PS10. Now, PS20, its Siamese sibling rests directly next door. Becoming fully operational back in 2013, together the two solar fields are comprised of over 300 panels which generate enough electricity to power 180,000 homes, nearly almost all of the population of Seville. Now that the entire development is fully functional, it sends forth zero greenhouse gas emissions. (One online energy journal dubbed PS10 the "Solar Conquistador"!)

3. Venger's Integrated Rooftop Farm - Oklahoma City, OK  

You may know OKC as the home of rock band The Flaming Lips, or the place where Thunder comes from...not the weather phenomenon, but the professional basketball team. But before them, you may recall Rodgers & Hammerstein's iconic "Oklahoma! Where the wind comes sweeping down the plain..." (The only show tune ever adopted as an official state song!) So it may only be natural that state capital is now also home to the world's largest rooftop wind installation. Adorning the roof of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMFR), which focuses on cures for cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and other brain ailments, the appearance of renewable energy shaped in a double helix formation is quite appropriate. There sit 18 of Venger Wind's 18.5-ft vertical axis turbines. Completed in 2012, the same year it gained LEED Gold certification, the vertical generators produce enough energy each year to power seven average-sized American homes, says OMFR.  

4. Bahrain World Trade Centre - Manama, Bahrain

Located in Manama, the Bahrain World Trade Centre was the first skyscraper in the world to incorporate wind turbines into its design. Completed back in 2008, the turbines sit on the three skybridges that connect the dual towers of the buildings. The trio of turbines provides 11% to 15% of the towers' total energy consumption. That's comparable to supplying the lighting for approximately 300 homes, says architect Atkins. The turbines operate about 12 hours during a normal day, all while looking good doing so.

5. The Eiffel Tower - Paris, France

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something bleu... The Parisian icon recently celebrated its 126th birthday with green gifts of two wind turbines, installed by Urban Green Energy. They now generate enough energy to power the first floor of the global landmark. With plans also in the works for a rainwater collection system, solar panels, and an LED lighting rig that will replace the 5 billion(!) lights currently adorning the tower, the Iron Lady may be elderly, but she is certainly keeping up with the times.

6. Strawscraper - Stockholm, SwedeN

If Stockholm's Belatchew Arkitekter firm sees its dream come to life, the Swedish capital will soon have its cityscape forever changed. The powerfully named Strawscraper is a concept recently nominated for an annual award by Danish nonprofit INDEX: Design to Improve Life. Trumpeted by its creators as the "urban wind farm of the future", the tower may double as a giant shower loofah for Godzilla. But it also promises to be a renewable source of wind energy for the city that is as pleasing to the eye and to the environment as it is safe and friendly for its bird population.

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