• Jenny Xu

Art and Renewable Energy

Updated: Apr 19, 2020

Renewable energy art is an emerging new sector of art which utilizes renewable energy into design or to operate kinetic aspects of art. The Land Art Generator Initiative, or LAGI, is a response to climate change and combats the issue functionally through renewable energy. The goal of LAGI is “to accelerate the transition to post-carbon economies by providing models of renewable energy infrastructure that add value to public space, inspire, and educate—while providing equitable power to thousands of homes around the world.” Through history, art has spurred movements and stimulated creative dialogue. Many artists openly criticize current energy use. Through “solution-based art practice,” artists can take their work a step further and actively create a solution by collaborating with architects and engineers. Through LAGI, power plants become public artwork that benefits the environment, creates a learning space, and stimulates local economies. The interdisciplinary nature of the work overlaps architecture, design, engineering, and environmental science and enhances innovation in these fields.

LAGI Glasgow is a project that is part of Glasgow’s Green Year 2015 and Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture, and Design. The project demonstrates the potential for professionals of different fields to contribute to renewable energy. The final three proposals in the competition are the Wind Forest, Watergaw, and Dundas Dandelion.

Wind Forest:

The Wind Forest transforms industrial landscapes and has spatial, environmental, and sensory qualities. The Wind Forest absorbs wind energy and distributes it to the community, like forests distributing energy from the atmosphere to the ecosystem. The forest consists of a hundred 4 kW Vortex Bladeless’. The Vortex Bladeless is a revolutionary “turbine” without any gears or bearings, making it incredibly cost-effective. It has no blades and uses oscillation instead. It is cheap to manufacture, portable, and easy to install. The futuristic forest has three characteristic groves of these turbines. The first site, a gathering place, is located by the East. The next one is in the centre wetlands and around the sustainable urban drainage system basin. The last one is a glade to the West which overlooks the city.


Watergaw- a Scottish word meaning a patch of rainbow in the sky. 

The Watergaw includes wind-callers, water-callers, and river-themes poems, which are all centered on wind and water, energy sources in daily Glasgow life. The luminous rainbow artwork is fleeting and comes and goes like the weather. It lights the Glasgow skyline whenever 1,000 kWh of energy is produced by the site. The generated electricity is then used on site and to generate income by exporting to the national grid. The heat from the water source heat pump is used in the local heating system.

Watergaw Design Elements

Watergaw Design Elements Key-

Energy Generating

— water-caller: micro-hydro turbine installation at Monkland Canal as it enters the Pinkston Basin — give-and-take: water source heat pump located in the vicinity of the Monkland Canal — wind- callers: array of 7 small-scale vertical axis wind turbines — willow field: biomass- producing willow plantation over the entire site.

Energy Communicating

— watershed: pedestrian walkway with landscaping representing Scottish river systems. — growing glass: community glasshouse heated for year-round food production — espalier shelters: wind- screen with benches warmed by hot water pipes from the give-and-take — sweet gale: planting of sweet-scented bog myrtle in the abandoned boat by Pinkston Basin.

Dundas Dandelion:

The Dundas Dandelion is inspired by the head of dandelions and its dependency on the wind to spread its seeds. It is also a playful flower that is suitable for children. The Dundas Dandelion plants the seeds of ideas into people’s lives and creates a learning space to explore and take risks. The proposal creates a “landscape of learning” to share Green Glasgow ideas through conversations, activities, and architecture. There is a Learning Lab at the base of the dandelion. The lab provides permanent housing for experts to teach and inspire local students and residents about sustainable energy. The lab also contains the equipment needed to control, monitor, and redistribute the energy produced. The Dandelion head is robust and lightweight. It is made of flexible carbon fibres “Wind Stalks” that contain Piezoelectric discs. The disks generate charges as the wind stalks sway in the wind. The structural beauty of the Dandelion is that it combines strength, rigidity, and sculptural aesthetic. 

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