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James Burgess

James Burgess

James Burgess studied Business Management at the University of Nottingham. He has worked in property development, chartered surveying, marketing, law, and accounts. He has also…

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The Hairy Building that Produces Clean Energy

The Söder Torn is one of the tallest buildings on the island of Södermalm, and a land mark in the city of Stockholm. Completed in 1997 it is actually several stories shorter than its architect, Henning Larsen, had originally planned, but a new retrofit aims to rectify this.

Belatchew, a firm of architects based in Stockholm, has proposed adding an additional 14 floors to the tower to bring it closer to Larsen’s vision; but more importantly, they have also suggested that the tower be covered in millions of piezo-electric straws which could collect energy from movements in the air and convert it into clean energy for the building.

The tower, now nicknamed “the Strawscaper” would be turned into a renewable energy, urban powerplant. The piezo-electric straws would sway around and vibrate in the wind, and the kinetic energy would be converted into usable electricity.

Hairy Building
Image from Belatchew.

Related article: 2014 Expected to be a Bumper Year for Wind

Belatchew believes that their idea offers a clever way to turn static buildings in cities into effective sources of energy generation, whilst at the same time using a form of wind energy generation would be less harmful to birds, and more pleasing to look at than conventional wind turbines.

Unfortunately, as nice as the idea may seem on paper, reality awaits in the shadows with some poignant questions, such as; how can the millions of piezo-electric straws be cleaned? Because they will quickly trap dirt and debris, as the tower effectively acts as a giant feather duster. And how much noise will the swaying millions of straws make on a windy day? I think people would be rather put off by the idea if it turned the entire tower into a deafening source of cacophonous noise.

Then there is the fact that as of yet piezo-electric devices are not very efficient, however research is still ongoing, so hairy buildings may well become a common site in a few years or so.

By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com



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  • Jack Parsons on May 27 2013 said:
    About dirt&debris;: is it possible to maintain a static charge and keep fluff off? More important is oily and other sticky pollutants. And soot: it will quickly become not white. And the first rain after awhile will be a shock. I'm in Cali where we go months without rain. This would never make it here.

    What happens when they break off? When the wind is too strong? With global warming weather will be more extreme everywhere, and that includes windstorms.
  • evodevo on May 24 2013 said:
    Yeah - power-washer should take care of the dirt problem. I'm just wondering how you keep them from hitting each other while they are waving around.
  • Curtis on May 23 2013 said:
    This can serve as a political prognosticator, ie "straw in the wind".
  • bdy1 on May 23 2013 said:
    Uh, two guys on an exterior lift clean it with a bucket of soap and water . . . kinda like windows, only without the squeegees . . . ya know, we wash things . . .

    Oh, and uh, "deafening, cacophonous noise?" Really? In the middle of town? You really think all those light-weight strands waving in unison is going to drown out traffic? Flag-strings on a windy day, at worst.

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