"Solar artwork is a new type of art that integrates the new technologies related to collection and use of solar power. Thanks to this capability to produce clean energy, these works of solar art offer some resources and possibilities that have remained unnoticed until now in this field of art."
When Spanish researcher Nacho Zamora first stumbled upon an image of "Solarsail," an energy-generating art installation in Switzerland, he knew he had found something different from the other public artworks he had been studying -- and something important.
Since that discovery, Zamora has been carefully cataloging solar-powered artworks around the world and interviewing their creators for his Solar Artworks Project, an online compendium of public art that is aesthetically striking, environmentally sustainable, and raises awareness about crucial renewable technologies.
One of the original solar artworks, the "Solarsail" in Switzerland highlights the progressive environmental policies of the municipality of Münsingen, which has been designated a Veloville (bicycle town) and an Energy Town. The 22-meter-high photovoltaic power plant generates about 6,500 kWh of electricity per year and can be seen from the train that runs through town.
"This combination of a power plant and a work of art is intended to highlight the benefits of renewable energy to residents and those passing through," Roland Kormann, president of Münsingen’s Solarsail Society, told the Swiss Federal Office of Energy in a 2004 interview. The electricity the sail generates is sold to the municipality’s eco-power network to finance its upkeep, maintenance, and insurance.
"The electricity produced is important because even small amounts of electricity make a contribution to sustainable energy production," said Kormann's son Stephan. "This beautiful plant demonstrates that forward-looking technologies can be integrated attractively everywhere -- even in works of art."