MAR 21, 2016 10:26 AM PDT

People want safe, cheap, green energy. Now they also want it to be pretty.

Although companies should be careful not to use beauty as a mask for sustainably irresponsible projects, aesthetically beautiful clean energy infrastructure may help convince the public to make the shift from coal and natural gas - whose infrastructure is not typically pleasing to the eye.

This beautifying phenomenon has already emerged in history. With the development of railways, aqueducts, as well as coal and nuclear power plants, architects have attempted in the past to impress the public eye with grand and imposing buildings. Now, with clean energy, the design is changing, with more focus on how the infrastructure can adapt to the existing landscape, not the other way around.

One example of this is The Øvre Forsland power station, which lies in the Norwegian province of Helgeland, just south of the Arctic Circle. Few people inhabit this province, though the area receives many visitors who come to interact with the wilderness. A hydroelectric plant that generates 30 gigawatt hours of power, this stunning building indeed was designed to fit in its surroundings - the Stein Hamre architecture firm team saying that the landscape was their muse.“The plant has been designed to reflect the characteristics of the landscape, which is located on the river bed in a clearing at the edge of a spruce forest. The main inspiration for the design was the verticality and the irregularity of the spruce trees.”

Yet The Øvre Forsland power station, like many of its modern contemporaries, also aims to draw in audiences for educational purposes, inviting visitors to learn about the processes of hydroelectric power.  
 
The Øvre Forsland power station


In Hamburg, Germany, the Georgswerder Energy Hill has enacted a different style. The energy hill touts grandiose wind turbines standing on a landfill artificial mountain, displays a solar panel field, and captures purified groundwater to use for energy.  Yet this green, clean, energy machine is equally for the public; it offers an interactive space for visitors to learn about renewable energy while enjoying a walk along a pathway that the opens up to vistas of the city.   
 
An aerial view of the Georgswerder Energy Hill


To see more innovative energy designs, click here.



Sources: The Conversation, Quartz
 
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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