The World’s Coolest Solar Collecting Building?


Sanyo in Japan has constructed an amazing solar-collecting building that embodies both clean-energy ideals and awesome architectural design strategies. The so-called Solar Ark has over 5,000 active solar panels generating over 500,000 KWh of environmentally friendly energy. Nearly 500 multi-colored lighting units placed between the various solar panels can be activated to create a variety of shapes and letters on the sides of this enormous structure.



As a working example of the potential of solar energy, the structure contains a solar museum with interactive exhibits as well as a solar lab and various meeting rooms for global environmental programs. The curved form is designed to take maximum benefit from as well as to graphically reflect the path of the sun and its energy. An elaborate truss system allows dizzying cantelevers to span out from the center of the structure and rise toward the sky. More info @ MetaEfficient.



38 thoughts on “The World’s Coolest Solar Collecting Building?”

  1. this is the coolest thing i ever seen. Its a shame to us Americans, that we can’t build this kind of buidings in America.

  2. Cool!!! But, my question, does it generate more power than it consumes (what with being a building for environmental friendliness and all)?

  3. Sako, we have the coolest military gear though! Imagine what we couldv’e built for a trillion $$$ instead of war? Ron Paul for president!

  4. Of course it generates more power than it consumes. Even if it consumes more, who cares, solar energy is free for life because James Bond has shutdown the one and only solar blocking satellite built by the crazy villains.

  5. Generates 500,000 kWh? I think you mean 500,000 kW (kilo-watt-hours is an amount, kilo-watts is a rate). It’s like saying Arnold Schwarzenegger is so strong he can lift 60 inches!

    500,000 kWh isn’t a lot of energy. But 500,000 kW produced cleanly and sustainably is a lot of power.

  6. hristopher Sachs says: January 9th, 2008 at 5:43 am Generates 500,000 kWh? I think you mean 500,000 kW (kilo-watt-hours is an amount, kilo-watts is a rate). It’s like saying Arnold Schwarzenegger is so strong he can lift 60 inches! 500,000 kWh isn’t a lot of energy. But 500,000 kW produced cleanly and sustainably is a lot of power.

    Huh? Why do KWh go over the heads of so many people. A kilowatt-hour is a kilowatt generated for an hour. For instance, leaving a 1kw microwave on for an hour. That is 1kw/hr of electricity. 10c if you’re using fossil fuels.

    The key to this is… how long does it take to produce the 500,000kw/hrs? Obviously it’s not producing a half million KW every hour or even every day, that’d be an insane amount of energy.

    Is it per month? Per year? 🙂

  7. Justraw wrote : “This looks like you could ride your scatboard on it,preety cool”

    Wouldn’t that make a pretty foul mess though?

  8. You think Ron Paul, ultra fundie Xtian racist who thinks Alabama and Mississippi had the right to decide that blacks shouldn’t integrate and abortion is murder, is gonna build that?

    Put the bong down hippies….

  9. How durable is this building? It’s awfully complicated, with a lot of moving parts, which is cause for concern due to the increased likelihood of problems arising. I think this may get very expensive to maintain.

    That aside, this is one cool building!

    Oh, and does the government of the country that produced this town have anything to do with constitutional libertarianism? Ron Paul?

  10. Delete my last comment and just tell chris sachs that he needs to take a physics course. It’s much more suitable to the topic here.

  11. Impossible.
    The most optimistic number that I can find for solar energy density is 1.4 kW/m^2. So for 500 000 kWh
    (That’s 500 Mega Watts) you would need an area of 357142.9 square meters.
    Follow the more info link and we find that the panel is 315 meters long that leaves the height at > 1133 meters!
    Maybe it’s just the camera angle but it doesn’t look that tall to me.

  12. Just like the unit’s name implies, KiloWattHours are made by multiplying a value in KiloWatts by a certain number of hours. If you want to know the rate of energy being produced, you need to divide it by time, just like metres per second (m/s) KiloWattHours when divided by time gives us KiloWatts which is a rate of energy production. A value expressed in kWh has a different meaning without the number of hours involved.

    Imagine I said that my car can travel 10,000km. This doesn’t tell us anything about the speed of the car until we know the time frame. 10,000km per year is fairly normal, 10,000km per day is quite fast. 500,000kWh per year is pretty good, 500,000kWh per century is not so good.

    kWh are a unit that most people find rather confusing unit, much like Nm (Newton Metres) which are found my multiplying Newtons (a measure of force) by metres. I suspect this is because we are more used to measuring rates expressed as one unit divided by another, not just a bare unit or a unit multiplied by another. I hope I have cleared things up a little.

    What all this means is that the panel doesn’t have to be 1133 metres tall, it only needs to be 10 metres tall as long as it’s out in the sun for 113 hours. Of course, in reality, it actually extracts less energy than the theoretical maximum and runs for more than 113 hours per year.

    There are many more details at but to clarify some of the details mentioned in this blog, the outputs are 630kW and 530,000kWh per year. The actual usable power is 2x 300kW at 440V AC.

    Although this is pretty cool, some of the best improvements to buildings can actually be made without solar panels at all. The building behind the solar array looks like it has been designed with passive solar collection in mind. Large glass windows to let in light and avoid needing artificial light, insulating glass to avoid needing costly heating and cooling and passive air-flows through the building to reduce the need for fans to move the air. It’s amazing that for about 10% extra building cost, you can reduce the running costs of a building by 50% and save enormous amounts of energy at the same time.

  13. That’s really amazing!
    Japan is really playing with creative ideas (to be precise:a big international corporation).
    I’m sure the USA is going to see loads of similar new renewable miracles, after the election, though.

  14. Sorry to disappoint you folks but the story behind the Sanyo`s solar power is much different than you imagine, I know that (without going into details) because I worked there. The truth is …. A Sanyo salesman made an error on an production order for one of his customer (let`s say the customer order 1000 solar panels and the sales guy add 1 more zero), after that and almost at the same time the president was going to a trip by shinkansen which passes in front of the old factory (where today is located the solar panel) and thought that something need to be done in order to “hide” the old factory looking … therefore, he used the mistaken order (taking out from the “9000” solar panels left) to cover up the factory from shinkansen view. I know, sometimes the reality hurts and destroy dreams but that is what happen.

  15. Please i will be very happy if you will give me the opportunity to share with you what i know as far as solar energy is concerned.
    thanks Hermann

  16. I don't think you would mind if I save the images and send it to all my friends. The architect used in the making of this building is just stunning.
    A new inspirational modern technology.

  17. from katlyn i now we havent met but that was the coolest thing i ever saw well maybe one day i will get a worlds record book and i will see that again i hope you do a other one so i make a commpet again to you guys see you next time.hi im grace im her sister.I can tell by this building that u r very cr8tv.FINE and ur smart.Wll see u latr.BYE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  19. just a shame that we haven't figured out a way to make electricity from sunlight that doesn't require such a toxic waste stream in the manufacturing process. when I see large PV projects, I've just got to wonder whose fishing waters are glowing in the dark because of it…

  20. I have to admit that this is the most impressive thing I've ever seen. I had the honor to see another solar installation Maryland just like this one a few years ago though. Can you imagine how far our world would go if we'd stop creating energy with nuclear reactors and use this kind of solar installation? but of course everything people are interested about is money and since they don't have to pay the Sun for it's energy, they can't ask us money either. This is why they prefer to destroy our world with everything that can bring profit.

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