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Can Renewable Energy Be Beautiful? Meet Balloon Power!


99 Red BalloonsNew York City’s Freshkills Park is no longer an eyesore or olfactory assault, as it used to be a landfill. It has since been covered over with grass, trees, bushes, pretty much all the things you might expect in a park. In a recent competition, the Land Art Generator Competition for Freshkills Park, conceptual ideas were sought to show that “renewable energy can be beautiful.”

A Canadian team came up with an idea named after an ’80s pop tune, “99 Red Balloons,” which unfortunately came in fourth place in the competition.

Still, what a great idea! The concept involves lofting ninety-nine red balloons over the park, which would also generate electricity using transparent solar cell technology. The design is calculated to produce enough electricity to power 4,500 homes.

The main opponents to renewable energy, the “not-in-my-backyard” people, would happily exchange a wind mill for a gas mask, simply because they “don’t like the appearance” of solar panels or wind mills in their vicinity.

Concepts like Canada’s “99 Red Balloons” could make even these people change their minds on renewable energy. Whether or not it is “beautiful” is another question. Unfortunately, “art” and “beauty”, thoroughly unquantifiable abstracts, have always been in the eye of the beholder.

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