The Solar Ark... well whaddya Noah! Big CAN be beautiful when it comes to solar power. At over 1,000 feet wide and 120 feet tall, the Solar Ark's flowing design and unique features make it anything but an eyesore.
That's a really big sun screen! The problem with large-scale solar power generation is that the generators must be, well, large. This can make them impractical for urban installations, especially in Japan where land is expensive and empty space is in short supply.
Lighting up the night Sanyo, one of Japan's largest electronics companies, has come up with an innovative compromise that allows a large solar power facility to coexist with Japanese society's need for esthetic harmony. It's called the Solar Ark, located in pastoral Gifu prefecture close to the geographical center of Japan.
Light yet strong Seen from the front, the Solar Ark displays a pleasing curved design that turns up at either end. A modified space frame and cantilever engineering make it lightweight yet exceptionally strong - able to withstand typhoon winds and earthquakes.
The Solar Ark's outer surfaces are covered with more than 5,000 active solar panels which generate over 500,000 kilowatt-hours of green energy in ideal weather conditions.
Not your usual drive-thru... The Solar Ark is more than just an industrial facility - Sanyo recognizes that it should be seen as an "ambassador" extolling and explaining the benefits of environmentally friendly energy derived from sunlight.
Ever seen a melon float? Ever TASTED one? The Solar Ark houses a Solar Energy Museum that is open to the public while the nearby Ark View Café provides thirsty visitors with refreshments including the house specialty: a bright green Melon Soda Float topped with vanilla ice cream!
Visual impact yes, environmental impact no As darkness falls, 500 multi-colored lighting units concealed between the solar panels display a variety of designs and messages, assumedly solar-powered. Pretty neat... and the solar, er, polar opposite of a grimy oil refinery. (via ecoble)
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