A fold-out energy tower for more sustainable festivals
Researchers of Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands, in collaboration with 9 companies, developed a 21-metre (69-feet) high fold-out tower with solar collectors and a wind turbine.
Much of the focus of making festivals more sustainable is eliminating waste like left behind tents and plastic cups and bottles. However, most European festivals use polluting diesel generators as their power supply. In 2017, associate professor of Innovative Structural Design Faas Moonen started on a project to find a cleaner solution to these generators.
While the sustainable solutions have existed for some time, the trick was to combine them. The design had to be aesthetically pleasing, as well as safe and generate as much energy as possible. In addition, the tower itself is made of sustainable materials, and thought has been given to the sustainable transport for the so-called GEM-Tower (Green Energy Mill).
Most of the energy is generated by a vertical wind turbine weighing 700 kilograms (1543 pounds) and standing at a height of 18 metres (59 feet). If there is no wind, the tower generates solar energy through the 144 integrated flexible solar cells. The team also provides 72 large flexible solar cells that festival organisers can apply to roofs of food stalls or lavatory units and connect to the tower’s battery pack.
The colourful, eye-catching panels are 40 solar collectors, called Luminescent Solar Concentrators (LSC) and developed by the TU Eindhoven. The panels catch incoming rays of light in their plates and transfer them to the edges. In the frames of the panels are solar cells that convert the concentrated light beams into electricity. The panels don’t need direct sunlight and provide energy even on a cloudy day.
To make the transportation more sustainable, the tower has been designed to be foldable and takes less than a day to construct. The 3,500-kilogram (7,716-pound) steel part of the tower is folded up to be about 1 metre (3 feet) thick and can be folded out to a height of 14 metres (46 feet). The current design has to be unfolded with a crane, but for the next model the team aims to integrate a button to unfold the tower automatically.
The tower will first be tested on the Dutch festival Pukkelpop and will also be shown during Dutch Design Week in October.
Photos: Bart van Overbeeke