Solar Serpent - Solar covered urban freeways by Architect Mans Tham
Jun 23, 2013
This is an elegant way of harnessing the wasted and unused spaces created along LA freeways. I think Tham is successful in offering a simple yet thorough solution for a quite complex problem. If Paris has the Seine river, our Los Angeles has the meandering utility of its freeways in which Tham has reimagined them something beyond their everyday use as congested arteries. He has envisioned them as efficient hubs to create energy and give back to the city itself.
Jul 8, 2013
The judges for the Transport Efficiency contest have selected this proposal as a *conditional* finalist. This means that they would like to see the following specific issues addressed before they will consider it for a Judges' Choice award: - The infrastructure cost of the solar panel structure may be very high for significant lengths of highway. A specific cost estimate will help assuage concerns that carbon reductions would be *too* high for the proposal to be feasible. - Algal biofuels grown on CO₂ exist, but they require an extremely pure feed of that gas. Road emissions from cars, on the other hand, are contaminated with many other types of pollutants. Is there any evidence that this element of the proposal is feasible? Some of their other comments on the proposal: - The presentation is excellent! - There have been other proposals and investigations of solar energy from road surfaces, rather than overhead panels. What are the benefits of this proposal vis-a-vis that idea? - Although the costs are large, the total emissions impact could also be large if the proposal were fully implemented. - Some consideration of the effect of a changing vehicle fleet — more hybrid and electric vehicles — would be helpful. The judges also want to emphasize that they will pay particular attention for the following elements when selecting a Judges' Choice winner from among the Transport Efficiency finalists: - An attempt, even if not exhaustive, at an analysis of the costs and benefits of the proposal (as already mentioned). - References for assumptions, claims and numerical figures in the proposal or cost-benefit analysis. - Brevity and focus in the proposal statement; an economy of words.
Jul 19, 2013
Dear Judges, Thanks for your comments, I have tried to answer your questions as good and informative as possible. The cost is very hard to estimate of a large scale installations even according to NREL but I have done an attempt to compare and estimate the upfront installation cost using theirs and other relevant reports. The algae farms are a possibility only that do not make or brake the solar idea. However I have found and talked to researchers in the US and Sweden that have evidence that clean C02 is not needed to produce bio-fuel from algae, even though nobody have tried car exhaust specifically. Dirty fluegas can even be more efficient. See references and comments in the updated proposal. All the best, Måns
Jul 29, 2013
High marks in presentation, concept is novel; but just not feasible, may not get done for 100 years. Despite the concept being interesting, our assessment is that it's just not going to happen. While it’s technically possible to implement, if not worrying about costs, but cost per unit of GHG reduction make it economically not attractive. It is far off the end of the feasibility envelope. Including it among the proposals for community voting would not create a grounded discussion. Letting it go to voting would imply the Judges thought it was feasible, which we do not.
Aug 11, 2013
It was bizarre to see the dismissive and unscientific response from the expert panel in a competition organized by a serious university such as MIT. The first judges comment of July 8 asked specific questions. The follow up was a total dismissal (did the jurors change, someone got sick?). Since my time is valuable I encourage Climate Co-LAB to think through what you ask of creative professionals before jurors change their mind 180 degrees and dismiss ideas they formerly showed keen interest in. I would be interested to know more on the judges radical and arrogant claim that this would not be done for 100 years? Well actually, two solar tunnels have been built above railroads, one in central London and the other longer one outside of Antwerp, since this project was initially launched 2010 (as referenced in the presentation). It would also be interesting to see what calculations the judges used to dismiss its feasibility? What is clearly stated in the proposal are the different scales that are possible ways forward with the project; freeway, local street, urban train-corridors or private roads. The Los Angeles version is an illustration of a possible solution that brings to the table new ways of producing energy in an urban context. In spending time to develop the concept, to respond to the judges concerns in their sober comment from July 8, I am, to put it mildly, surprised to see a judges response comment better fit for a FOX news talk show than an "expert panel" dealing with science. I do not find the judges statement in line with what is needed to further the development of finding a multitude of solutions for climate change, something I understood was the positive objective of the Climate Co-LAB project. I encourage the jury to reconsider its comment and to respond in a respectful way leading forward. Regards Måns Tham