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The Solar Lily Pads of Glasgow’s River Clyde

slide_lilypads_aerialLilly pads have wide disc shaped leaves that float lightly on the water like a pontoon boat, form beautifully following function, allowing them to gather sunlight all day without fighting for space like their landlocked cousins. The water intensifies the sunlight that is gathered up by the leaves, which slowly rotate to match the motion of the sun as it arcs across the sky. So not surprisingly, lilly pads were the inspiration behind the innovative design by the Scottish architecture firm ZM Architecture in a brilliant proposal to provide solar power to the city of Glasgow, Scotland.

Ranging in size from 15 ft to 45 ft in diameter, so even on cloudy days these giant floating solar cells would take advantage of the open space of the River Clyde in Glasgow, to generate energy for the city while also stimulating urban riverfront activity. Aesthetically appealing by day and at night they would provide spectacular neon light circles beneath landmarks such as the Squinty Bridge, Glasgow Tower or the Finnieston Crane.slide_lilypads_dusk

The water lily is tethered by its rope-like stem to roots that grip the bottom of the stream or pond, preventing the plant from floating away, while still giving it enough slack to maneuver. Similarly, these solar lilies would be tethered to shore or to the river bed and integrated motors would rotate the discs to follow the sun for maximum output. The energy created would then be transformed and exported to the national grid and help reduce the city’s carbon footprint. The River Clyde was chosen because it was an under-used resource with very little river activity and the lily pads could be floated easily on its surface and quickly removed if need be.

The proposal has already won several awards, including the International Design Awards (IDA) Land and Sea Competition. Though the last reports had this project remaining at the preliminary planning stage, I have hit some brick walls trying to check into this project to see if and/or how it’s proceeding. If and when I get some answers to my inquiries, I will update you.

In the mean time, hopefully this great idea will take off and inspire many other city governments to get creative with the design of photovoltaics. There is NO law of physics that demands ecological innovations must be uniformly drab or utilitarian. We can put a little futuristic spice and beauty into the formula for saving our planet. Why? Because we like it!

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8 Responses to “The Solar Lily Pads of Glasgow’s River Clyde”

  1. wilson Says:

    Nice and creative eco-friendly concept, Linda. By the way, there’s also a Lilypad building that have the same eco-green effect as the Solar Lilly Pads do. Have a look on this site:

    wilsons last blog post..To Write or Not To Write?

  2. Linda Says:

    Hi Wilson … Yes, I know about them and I think they are really cool looking and perhaps highly efficient! I am off to check out the link!

  3. sparkzspot Says:

    Hi friend.. Interesting post.. Nice blog work.. keep it up..
    will drop by your site often.. Do find time to visit my blog and post your comments..
    Have a great day.. Cheers!!!

  4. Linda Says:

    Hi Sparkzspot … thanks for dropping by and I have been to your site. Good job!

  5. Judy Says:

    Hi Linda! Very interesting. Never would have realized a plant could provide the inspiration for such an innovative concept. Thanks for sharing! “See” you soon!

    Judys last blog post..Semi-Silent Saturday

  6. Linda Says:

    Hi Judy … It is amazing how we go backwards to go forwards. Thanks for coming by!

  7. Says:

    The Solar Lily Pads of Glasgow’s River Clyde | Forced Green…

    so even on cloudy days these giant floating solar cells would take advantage of the open space of the River Clyde in Glasgow…

  8. Architectural Technologist - Solar Power @ Konstrukshon Weblog Says:

    […] The Solar Lily Pads of Glasgow’s River Clyde ( Architecture, Building construction, CIAT, CPD, Computers, Energy, House designs, Photo voltaics, Specifications, Technologist, smart grid Energy, Renewable, Solar, Solar cell, Solar energy, Sun, Sunlight […]

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