Its not just a futuristic design – it defies common sense and that is the point. This is a cross between a work of art and a renewable energy installation designed to create a huge ice sculpture in the searing heat of the desert – sustainably.
Ap Verheggen’s plan is to draw attention to climate change in a positive light – showing possibilities where none were thought possible – and letting the sun power the whole process.
The artist says, “The solar cells, they generate electricity, that will be transmitted to the trees, the trees are ice machines, and they are cooled in such a way that they will transform moisture in the air to ice.”
Technical support for the project is being provided by Cofely Refrigeration. The company’s Erik Hoogendorn, said it will be hard produce a surface temperature of below zero degrees Celsius in the desert but it’s not impossible.
Hoogendorn says, “Right now we are looking at how much photovoltaic panels we need, or is there another way to make energy from the sun. The water we will extract from the air, so by creating the cold surface, water vapor will go to the cold surface and will turn into ice.”
The artist’s unique take on climate and resources has been recognized by the UN’s Institute for Water Education in Delft. UNESCO-IHE have nominated Verheggen a Cultural Ambassador – the Rector, Andras Szollosi-Nagy, applauds the message that we must manage our resources carefully or suffer the consequences.
Szollosi-Nagy says, “Water crisis that is coming is not basically the crisis of the water, meaning that we will be running out of water, but rather how the water is being governed.”
When it’s built in either Eritrea or Ethiopia, the sculpture will cover more than 300 square meters, reaching 15 meters high. And the more the sun shines the more ice it’ll produce — in theory at least. In practice Ap Verheggen will begin to find out when work begins at the end of this year.
Bottom line: Dutch artist is preparing to create a sustainable artificial glacier in the middle of a desert to challenge popular ideas about climate change. The project will see a solar-powered refrigeration unit forming an ice sculpture somewhere in the east African desert. Stuart McDill reports.