It's always the Scandinavians who come up with the best Los Angeles hacks (eg the Danish plan for a Hollywood Sign hotel), and here is Swedish architect Mans Tham with "Solar Serpents in Paradise," a plan to cap the freeways...with solar canopies. He says "Urban oil wells have made the link between energy and daily life unusually appearent in Los Angeles. The Solar Serpents introduce a new level of site specific urban energy production," and asks "With Los Angeles County having 800 km of freeways – public land with existing points of access for maintenance – why not use some of them for the location of a large scale solar installation?"
Tham says that the Santa Monica Freeway alone could produce 150 gigawatt hours per year, enough to power Venice, and that the electricity "will be sucked up by households and businesses locally in the grid with minimal transmission costs." The plan also includes electric car charging stations under overpasses and adjacent algae ponds fed by the carbon dioxide-rich freeway air and harvested for biofuel.
The Solar Serpents have been presented at an architecture event at the Swedish Embassy in Washington, DC and at the Toward a Just Metropolis Conference at UC Berkeley. It grew out of the Royal University College of Fine Arts project The Fifth Ecology -- Los Angeles Beyond Desire, which exhibited downtown last year.
· Mans Tham [Official Site]