If I ask you to envision what a solar charger looks like, you might imagine a flat panel with grids that aligns toward the direction of sunlight. You wouldn’t be wrong; that’s what a traditional solar energy generator generally looks like. But as with all technology, aesthetics should not be neglected — which is why Barcelona-based architect André Broesse reimagined solar power generators by drawing inspiration from an orb to help magnify the amount of light harvested in one session. The result? Efficient, gorgeous energy harvester beautiful enough to double as an art installation.
The patent-pending design works by utilizing a ball lens outfitted with weatherproof optical tracking to improve energy efficiency. With the sphere, Broesse reports that he was able to harvest 35 percent more energy than traditional solar panels, and can be used during both day and night time to gather energy from the sun and the moon.
In a comparison chart to various types of solar energy machines, the orb works in all weather conditions, even cloudy days. The design can also be adapted to a mobile version homeowners can use to garner energy to heat water or generate electrical power.
Broesse has designed the orb to be easily integrated into a building’s design, replacing giant glass windows with a large sphere. This move is ambitious, to say the least, since the orb would have no problem fitting into new buildings but might find it harder to be incorporated into existing architectures. Another option is to make a new structure as an add-on, such as a pole at the lobby entrance of buildings. The design looks beautiful and modern enough to be decorative as well as functional and most importantly, green.
While it is likely more expensive as solar panels, which are getting lower in cost every day, there’s a price to pay for elegant designs with more efficiency. And of course, a giant light magnifier like this also makes us wonder if it’s safe to stand near. Would that make us the tiny ants under a magnifying glass? If I ever come near this thing in real life, I’d probably snap pictures from afar and watch in awe and curiosity.
For more photos of the sphere solar energy generator, visit Designboom for an extensive gallery.