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.