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Solar Waterfall Could Power Rio Olympics

Swiss architectural and design firm Rafaa has proposed building a 345-foot solar tower and urban waterfall that will provide power to the city of Rio de Janeiro during the Olympic Games in 2016.

The solar city tower project consists of a massive power plant that will generate energy for the Olympic village in Rio. Excess energy from the solar panels will be pumped as seawater into the tower. At night, the seawater can be released to run a turbine and generate electricity. The water also can be released during special occasions to create the urban waterfall, Rafaa said.

The structure will include a balcony on a glass sky walk at the top of the tower, an observation deck located slightly lower and a cafeteria and shop beneath the waterfall.

“The technology and design is pretty much one-of-a-kind,” said Eric Bloom, senior analyst at Pike Research. “It’s innovative and it addresses the intermittency challenges of renewable energy like solar and wind.”

Bloom doesn’t expect the solar city tower to be replicated on a commercial scale throughout the world. “It doesn’t need to be scalable,” he said. “The Olympics is the perfect venue and provides the opportunity to showcase innovations in green building and the use of renewable energy.”

Green building techniques have made appearances at other Olympics, including Beijing 2008 and London 2012, and that trend will continue in future games, Bloom said.

For example, an entire green building certification program was created for all the structures built for the Beijing Olympics. The foundation of the Aquatics Center at the London 2012 Olympics used concrete with more than 30 percent recycled materials, and toilets in the venue use non-potable water from a filter backwash recycling system, according to the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games’ London 2012 Sustainability Report .

The organizers of the 2012 London Olympics said earlier this year they cut the event’s projected carbon footprint by more than a fifth through the use of rented seats, tents and crowd barriers.

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3 thoughts on “Solar Waterfall Could Power Rio Olympics

  1. I think you need to read up, while the design is just a proposal, there’s nothing akin to a perpetual motion machine when you’re transfering solar energy to mechanical energy. Given enough solar energy you could easily create electricity during the day and use the surplus to pump water vertically for storage. It’s a way to store solar energy during the day to use at night when the sun is down (albeit from the design pictures it doesn’t look like it would provide much storage). It’s not some magical free energy machine.

  2. Another environmentalist wet dream. JMan you should really do some of your own reading! From the company that drew up these designs:
    “the design is in a very early stage and we are facing lots of technical problems. Even though we have done some research in this field, a solid cost estimation or an energy consumption of this building is not possible at the moment”. email them yourself!

    Technical issues like like on capacitance, energy storage, work (physics), energy loss, etc.are not trivial. Like it or not, fossil fuel is still the most viable energy source available. Some ethanol products come close (soy ethanol) and are renewable. But I am sure I am wasting my breath, you enviro-nuts are like 3 year old’s, you don’t want to listen to anything you don’t like.

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