Decentralised Solar Economy: Unattended And Smart Solar Energy Urban System (Unsseus)

Provides Ng CUHK
David Doria UCL
Baha Odaibat independent architect
Alberto Fernandez UCL
Nikoletta Karastathi UCL

Planners often go out of the city when planting large-scale solar farms due to requirements for huge, flat surface areas. This reduces urban proximity to renewable energy sources, causing dissipation during energy transfer and a waste in solar energy unused within urban areas. This paper aims at understanding the prospect and challenges in transforming buildings from passively consuming energy to actively generating energy for cities. As every building has a different renewable energy capacity, how may we re-distribute power amongst a network of users, forming a socio-economy around distributed power generation? Digital platform as a means of mass communication facilitates interactions between multiple individuals that give emergence to a complex system. In face of our energy crisis, the integration between platform strategies and architecture provides an opportunity for us to sense, actuate, and control energy exchanges – a smart system – through feedback and personalisation. This highlights distributed power generation not merely as a problem of technical engineering, but also socioeconomic engineering. This paper translates concepts interdisciplinary from engineering to design, including ‘Unattended’, ‘Smart’, ‘Solar Energy’, and ‘Urban System’ (UnSSEUS). It first introduces its position towards the role of digital platforms in architecture, then analyses emerging info-biological theories in complexity sciences with the aim of translating existing models in nature. More specifically, it considered how the Information Theory of Individuality (ITI) and Free Energy Principle (FEP) define individuality through information transfer, which helps to analyse relationships between individual entities and their environments as an emergence. With which, this paper argued three main points of design implications that emphasised on the circularity of energy and information in a system – negentropic, preemptive, and network strategies. From these theoretical approaches, this paper exemplifies its arguments with a design research UnSSEUS, defines its key terminologies, and discusses its potentials in implementation by looking at the existing renewable energy challenges in one of the most densely populated cities – Hong Kong. The context research in Hong Kong’s ‘Feed-in Tariff’ scheme provides the basis for a preliminary design experiment in energy personalisation using sudoku gameplay – a combinatorial game based on a 9-by-9 grid that can be populated by nine distinct items. This same grid was used to discretize and encode energy exchanges into an architectural system, each computationally associated with a number from 1 to 9. This initial experiment is based on a building tower that is equally distributed into 9 units, but such formulation can be altered to adapt to diverse building topologies.The computational game-playing strategy can then be used to solve the organisation of energy by finding optimal solutions for the games that are created and modified through informational feedback. Thereby, the system is able to consider energy as time and pricing factors to define different organisational solutions for different games and states, and function as the logic to the back-end of the platform strategies in a decentralised solar economy.

Keywords: Digital Platforms, Info-Bio Design, Personalisation, Sudoku Gameplay, Unattended And Smart Solar Energy Urban System

View Full Paper