To cycle producing energy, but what can we do with it?, Would not it be used as an alternative energy source, in the same way as is done with solar energy? If this is not used, is ‘lost’. Would there be any method of storage or convert it into useful energy?.
The electrical demand is increasingly, cause of the technological development that we are living, and now a large part of the population is suffering a energy poverty (20% households can´t satisfy their energy demand). Whenever energy is becoming more necessary, it is becoming more expensive.
There are projects they have work about this issue for example the case of ‘urban trees’, in Alcalá de Henares, ( Madrid).
Because of this, I’m interested to relation the bike with the production of energy. In this way, we could monetize the creation and use of bike lanes in cities like become key pieces of this new society.
Alcalá de Henares has a very similar conditions as Alicante. The people don’t ride bike a lot, for the same reasons as Alicante, the weather and the slopes. This results in a high rate of obesity.
The kWh is around 19.20 cent in Spain which means that for example in Alcalá de Henares 100 people have consumed an average of 450,000 kWh, assuming a € 864 per head (these data have been taken from the indicator power consumption by province); in Alicante the people would pay around 749€.
POPULATION GROUPS INVOLVED
-Citizens: now a day in Alcalá de Henares exist a 25% obesity, cause of the unhealthy way of life that we have. Another problem that exists is energy poverty, because of the way we live and the economic problems besetting our country.
-A.S.A. : (Association for sustainability and architecture): announces a contest in which it proposed to design an artificial tree, which should address the ecological theme, tinting in account the cost (which is less than € 18,000), without forgetting the essence of the tree. The prize is € 3000 for the winner and two €1500 for the following two classified.
-Elii: is a group of architects who became the winner of the contest of A.S.A by its proposal of urban tree, focused both in the competition and future users (citizens) under the strategy of ecological awareness.
– Butech : A company that is part of Porcelanose, associated company of A.S.A. commissioned to carry out the execution of the winning project.
SOCIAL PROBLEMS AND CONTROVERSIES
– Energic poverty: The price of energy linked with the bad current economic situation in our country is causing arising the energical poverty class, families unable to cover their daily energy needs.
Health problem: the 25% of the citizens weight obesity problems cause of bad habits. Do sport can reduce this problem.
Eco-buildings: The echo constructions require a heavy investment to boot, in the long run they are eco-friendly and costs are depreciated. But what is missing today is money, is it profitable to afford to create projects that amortized costs over time? in how much time will we recover that money?… and if the action of the citizens is essential for this?
City council: Responsible for giving permission to A.S.A.
A.S.A.: They propose the contest and choose the winning project.
Elii: They win the contest and are the heads of work.
Butech: they must to built the winning tree.
Citizens: They are committed to hold the tree, to change that this provide incentives.
PHASES AND DEADLINES
In the year 2009, ASA (Association for sustainability and architecture) convened an international ideas competition to build an artificial tree. The prize was to build a prototype to be produced in series, that make visible the functions that a tree plays in the city, and socializes at the same time, some of the problems relating to sustainability.
-15th March 2009: Presentation of proposals: the 81 contestants groups presented their proposals
-15th April 2009: Publication of judgment. “Arboles urbanos” of Elii group wins the 1st prize.
-15th May 2009: Execution of the project in Alcalá the Henares. economic problems prevent that ´s carry out. And the same with the other phases.
-14th Juny 2010: Execution of the project in Alcalá the Henares.
-30th Juny 2010: Dismantling and relocation the project to Santiago de Compostela.
-7th July 2010: Execution of the project in Santiago de Compostela.
-21st July 2010: Dismantling the project to finish.
At first they make a philosophical reflexion regarding what is a tree, to draw conclusions:
“A tree above an image represents a relational link”
“All the trees of the city are artificial… they need our care to survive”
” A tree is an environment… Design a tree means to design an environment”
“A tree is a club…is a social web”
This translation process allows they to associate technological elements for its urban tree species.
This device explores the social dimension of sustainability: It is designed to enroll people in sustainable matters and practices. The Urban Tree visualizes the functions that a common tree performs in the everyday life of a city. The top part configures a marquee featuring solar photovoltaic panels and vegetation panels for plants. The supports are especially designed as urban furniture , exhibiting benches and cycling points.
Keep fit while you take care of the ‘Urban Tree’!
The Urban Trees are meeting points and exercise areas. When you cycle at the tree, you generate the energy that waters the plants and supplies electricity for the illumination. But, at the same time, while cycling at the tree you look after yourself. The tree needs your care to survive. You can save money at the same time as you do exercise and takes care to the tree.
The Urban Tree produces energy, based in a combined system:
– Bicycles, that produce electricity while you pedal. Power: 50Wp / per bike
– Photovoltaic Infrastructure, that transforms solar radiation into electricity. 36 photovoltaic basic units. Power: 5Wp / per unit.
When you cycle at the tree, you generate the energy that waters the plants and supplies electricity for the illumination. The tree needs your care to survive. During the warm seasons, it vaporizes water to cool yourself down.
You may charge your cell phone, your laptop, etc… in any of the 4 sockets. This action can take as an incentive to motivate people to “take care the tree”.
The Urban Tree provides access to information on power generation:
1. Charging Status Gauge:
When you start pedaling, a green light turns on. It indicates that your exercise is being transformed into electricity.
2. Battery Status Gauge:
A 3 led display installed on the back of the solar panels shows the charge status of the Urban Tree. The night-time glare from these light-emitting displays shows the amount of power the tree produced during the day. When it runs downs, the lights progressively fade away:
– All the lights are on. The Urban Tree is fully charged.
– One light of each solar PV panel switches off. The Urban Tree is only half charged.
– One single light of each solar PV panel remains on. The Urban Tree is running out of energy.
3. Pedal Gauge:
When the tree is low on battery, lights under each saddle flicker indicating that the Urban Tree needs care: “Please, give me a ride!”
Eco-spinning and Eco-picnic
In July 2010 eco-spinning around the urban tree sessions were organized in which counted with the participation of the team of rhythmic gymnastics from Alcalá de Henares. Later, held an eco-picnic under the Crown of the tree. Both activities passed to the rhythm of the music produced through the urban tree.
DIFICULTIES, SUCCESES AND FAILURES
Be able to understand what is a tree to create an item with the same features.
Such projects need to start investing heavily to ensure its proper functioning. This economic boost necessary to build the artifact, and advertise effectively among the population, if no one used it would just waste, and that eco-project would not be ecological and economical.
The installation (the tree) was a success in 2 cities where executed. Part of this success lies in the desire to involve the population to carry out an action, that at the same time to be ecological, gives it a benefit well be loading the mobilphone, do exercise or be sprayed with water in summer.
The social ladder which proposes the project, is its strong and at the same time its weakness. In two weeks has been that it works, since costs and efforts, have been able to concentrate to achieve this. The problem is that it is not known if it would be a viable project along the time. In a short time is not feasible from an economic and ecological point of view, but long term (if it works) could be an element that not only brings something architecturally, is capable of becoming a self-supporting element, cost 0, and even get to the point to make a profit. That is to say that long-term it can give much more than it has needed “to be born”, it can become a good investment.
The project shows how people are able to change their habits within whenever they get a benefit in return. In this case is responsible for taking care of the urban tree in exchange for energy, entertainment or refreshing steam. That means that the project which proposes has to offer some sort of incentive to use and does not become useless. There’s that take into account the energy incentive given is something that does not end by being economically profitable in the medium term, but can be used as a claim, and attract in this way urban street artists as type activities, or become charging points for mobile phones or other electronic equipment.
Another interesting point that can be drawn from this project is the theme of urban image, which may vary depending on the use that is taking him to the tree, prompting to use is to provide a better urban image or a better service. We must not forget that it is a structure that can move, so when it fulfills its mission in a place you can move to another where do more missing, and can be removed even if at some point it becomes obsolete. This is a very important quality today because it allows the evolution and never become a hindrance.