IKEA’s research and design laboratory SPACE10 has unveiled their latest project, SolarVille, to showcase new ways to democratize access to clean, renewable energy. Based in Copenhagen, the team partnered with blockchain experts BLOC, Blocktech, WeMoveIdeas India and architecture practice SachsNottveit. The project explores how combining new technologies with solar power can make clean energy more affordable. The vision centers on cooperative micro-grids where homeowners can become makers and traders of clean energy.
SolarVille is built to a 1:50 scale, and designed by architecture practice SachsNottveit. The miniature wooden village is a working prototype where households can generate renewable energy using solar panels to capture the rays of an artificial sun extended above the installation. Other households automatically purchase the excess electricity generated in the community directly from the producer using blockchain technology. Anders Nottveit of SachsNottveit said that “Our design approach was to turn a very complicated, technical project into something familiar, approachable and playful.”
“Centralised energy systems are often too slow and economically inadequate to reach the billion people who remain locked in energy poverty. SolarVille showcases that, when working in tandem, technologies such as solar panels, micro-grids and blockchain open new opportunities: off-grid systems allowing people to leapfrog traditional grid electricity,” says Bas Van De Poel, Creative Director, SPACE10.
The flow of energy is visualized through small LED lights embedded in the model, showcasing the energy traded within the community in real-time. In SolarVille, people would buy renewable energy from their own community, which means the money stays in their community. More broadly, the project was designed as a global village combining architectural details from around the world. Torbjörn Lööf, CEO of Inter IKEA Group, said that, “The IKEA funded research and design lab SPACE10 gives us new perspectives, discovering new opportunities within many different areas. It will be very interesting to learn how this combination of new technology and solar energy solutions can make lives better for the many people.”
The unveiling of this prototype coincides with the release of a report titled “A Brighter Tomorrow: Solar power and its importance to the world’s energy future”, which lends more insights into the research behind SolarVille. The report outlines how the declining cost of solar energy presents a powerful decarbonisation pathway for the planet.