The Lunar Cubit could merge art and solar power

February 8, 2011 by Katie Gatto, weblog

( -- An ancient form may be coming to the modern world. A new project, called the Lunar Cubit, features a set of nine black pyramid-shaped solar powered structured. The structures will power thousands of homes in the Abu Dhabi desert. Each of the pyramids would be able to provide power to about 250 desert homes. This instillation may not be powerful as a standard solar power farm, but it would be visually stunning.

The proposed structure consists of eight small that surrounding a central, larger pyramid in a semi circle. This design allows for the structures to also act as a lunar calender. The structures will use LED lights to illuminate in different combinations to indicate the waxing or waning of the moon.

The project was first submitted as a proposal in the Land Art Generator Initiative. The contest asked designers to create a large-scale renewable energy project that would double as a work of art.

The Lunar Cubit would feature frameless made of glass and amorphous silicon. The structures would be expected to pay back the cost of construction in about five years. All nine of the pyramids would constitute a 1.74 MW utility-scale power plant, with the central pyramid being responsible for converting the energy to AC electricity for home use.

The Lunar Cubit project was designed by Robert Flottemesch, Jen DeNike, Johanna Ballhaus, and Adrian P. De Luca. It is inspired by the ancient measurements that allowed for the original pyramids to be constructed, with the proposed measurements proportional to the Great Pyramid of Cheops in Giza.

Explore further: Egypt to open inner chambers of 'bent' pyramid

More information: … -WEBDOWNLOADV2.0.pdf

Related Stories

Egypt to open inner chambers of 'bent' pyramid

March 16, 2009

(AP) -- Travelers to Egypt will soon be able to explore the inner chambers of the 4,500-year-old "bent" pyramid, known for its oddly shaped profile, and other nearby ancient tombs, Egypt's antiquities chief announced Monday.

Desert power: A solar renaissance

April 1, 2008

What does the future hold for solar power? “Geotimes” magazine looks into more efficient ways of turning the sun’s power into electricity in its April cover story, “Desert Power: A Solar Renaissance.”

Egypt: New find shows slaves didn't build pyramids (Update)

January 10, 2010

(AP) -- Egypt displayed on Monday newly discovered tombs more than 4,000 years old and said they belonged to people who worked on the Great Pyramids of Giza, presenting the discovery as more evidence that slaves did not ...

Sahara desert project aims to power half the world by 2050

December 2, 2010

( -- A joint project by universities in Algeria and Japan is planning to turn the Sahara desert, the largest desert in the world, into a breeding ground for solar power plants that could supply half the world’s ...

Recommended for you

Researchers find tweeting in cities lower than expected

February 20, 2018

Studying data from Twitter, University of Illinois researchers found that less people tweet per capita from larger cities than in smaller ones, indicating an unexpected trend that has implications in understanding urban pace ...

Augmented reality takes 3-D printing to next level

February 20, 2018

Cornell researchers are taking 3-D printing and 3-D modeling to a new level by using augmented reality (AR) to allow designers to design in physical space while a robotic arm rapidly prints the work.

What do you get when you cross an airplane with a submarine?

February 15, 2018

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed the first unmanned, fixed-wing aircraft that is capable of traveling both through the air and under the water – transitioning repeatedly between sky and sea. ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (4) Feb 08, 2011
Snore. Future peoples would laugh at our art, but will probably find laughter to be old fashioned. They will just nod knowingly.
4 / 5 (2) Feb 08, 2011
The structures will power thousands of homes in the Abu Dhabi desert.
Uh, no. First of all, this is just a proposal. So, the word "will" is a bit strong. More importantly, the project as a whole estimates it could power at most 250 homes (as anyone can discover by reading the linked PDF.)


Why are you assuming there would be any "peoples" in the future, to start with?
2.7 / 5 (3) Feb 08, 2011
The quality of articles on Physorg has been steadily diminishing. There are spelling mistakes! The article is rife with errors. Disappointing.
1 / 5 (2) Feb 08, 2011
What a retarded waste of energy. How many of the panels will actually take advantage of direct sunlight? (LOL)
not rated yet Feb 09, 2011
They will probably just put panels on the sides that take in light and paint the rest black, lol
5 / 5 (3) Feb 09, 2011
I like it. Apophis would be tempted to land there so his Jaffa' could collect slaves from among the locals for the Gao'uld.
5 / 5 (1) Feb 09, 2011
Sometimes you have to do something showy (though maybe not super effective) to get people to dream.

To all those who say this is a waste of time and money. You think flying to the moon was a waste of time and money?
1 / 5 (4) Feb 09, 2011
The question now before us is just this: will these irrational, Luddite sun worshipers now reveal their true colors and revert to the overt practice of human sacrifice in the tradition that their anti-science, pagan and bestial ideology promotes.
1 / 5 (1) Feb 09, 2011
are they going to angle them at the sun too? The sun isn't stationary.
1 / 5 (1) Feb 09, 2011
From a practical point of view, even a thousand homes (apartments?) is nothing compared to all the real estate this thing takes up. I have to say though that Abu Dhabi is phenomenal at making spectacular use of other people's money. Remember the multi-billion dollar bailout just 18 months ago or so? A 5 year payback? I don't trust their accountants on that one either.
1 / 5 (1) Feb 09, 2011
Oops. Made a mistake on the bailout. That was Dubai.
5 / 5 (1) Feb 09, 2011

Given that they're pretty close to the equator, for most of the year the sun will pass almost directly overhead above the pyramids. That means all of their facets will tend to see the sun at some point during the day (some in the morning, others in the evening.)

Also, since these are PV panels and not solar concentrators, they can take advantage of indirect light just as easily (i.e. they'll produce electricity -- though of course not at full nameplate capacity -- just as long as the sky is bright in any direction.) The linked PDF claims that the overall loss of efficiency compared to a purely south-facing stationary panel, is 20%. So it's not terrible.

On the whole, it's an art project first and power plant second. I mean, we don't see people laughing at plain-granite or plain-marble statues and monuments in parks. So why laugh at a park with some artistic pyramid structures, that just happen to also generate a megawatt and a half of electricity while looking nice?
not rated yet Feb 10, 2011
Pink Elephant:

Photovoltaics actually suck compared to orientable trough mirrors powering steam engines.

It's possible to get close to 66% efficiency on conversion to electricity using steam engines...and for a cheaper price.

Try google or youtube and you'll be shocked at how much power they get from these systems.

Still, your point is valid that functional art certainly beats "non-functional" art.
1 / 5 (2) Feb 10, 2011
Why are you assuming there would be any "peoples" in the future, to start with?
Im not sure how to answer that. But lets try. There should be at least 2 finite beings extant who would have slightly differing perspectives on the 'world' due to colocation. Irrespective of their composition, they may not immediately know how the other judges its perspective, and may want to know.

If one of those beings was me, I would offer, that art is poop and what is the point of it. And even though the other being experiences a perspective different from mine, I should expect it to agree with me.

Because after all we would be advanced beings from the future and would have no need to reinterpret reality the way ancient humans with their paltry senses and flawed brains seemed compelled to do. Because reality the way it is would be all that we would need to experience, and we would be quite satisfied with it.

I may have answered more than your question asked. Thanks for the opportunity.
not rated yet Feb 10, 2011
after all we would be advanced beings from the future
... whose motives and motivations, as well as cognitive processes, would be utterly alien and incomprehensible to you and me. So how can we even hope to anticipate the outcome of such ineffable processes?
and would have no need to reinterpret reality the way ancient humans with their paltry senses and flawed brains seemed compelled to do
But not all art is mere reinterpretation. What about music, dance, literary fiction, geometric sculpture and architecture in general, etc.?

IMO a lot of art is original and generative, rather than interpretive in nature. And super-advanced beings might actually experience leaps of creativity and flights of fancy quite beyond anything you or I could ever hope to imagine (because it wouldn't fit inside our tiny skulls, to begin with.)
we would be quite satisfied with it
Would we? Fancy promises many more possibilities and adventures than the circumscribed and limiting reality...

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.