Shoreditch Beacon casts light on solar energy
15 September 2008
A six-metre tower of solar-powered multi-coloured lights designed by Dr Beau Lotto (UCL Institute of Ophthalmology) has been installed on a Shoreditch street, London.
The tower, officially known as the Beacon, was commissioned by Shoreditch Trust, a charitable regeneration agency, funded through the Department for Communities and Local Government's New Deal for Communities programme. The Beacon produces its own electricity through a collection of solar panels and unique paving slabs, which are partially made from recycled local bottle-glass. At night, the batteries use their stored-up solar power to light the Beacon from within using fluorescent tubes, according to the volume of passers-by.
Dr Lotto said: "The Beacon is an experiment into the potential of turning the ground on which we walk into areas for harvesting energy from the sun. Every day we will measure how much energy is generated by the path made of glass and solar panels. If it has been good weather and enough energy is harvested, the Beacon will light up during the night. If the weather has been rubbish and too little energy has been harvested, it won't - which means people will be able to get a more intuitive sense of what is and what is not possible with solar power.
"It's also a social experiment into ownership and social ecology: the community that took the risk to support this project also owns the solar energy system I invented for it. Fifty per cent of the money made from futures sales will go back to fund social projects in the local London area through the Shoreditch Trust."
To find out more about the Beacon, follow the links at the top of this article.
Image: Dr Beau Lotto in front of his Beacon