For those who have never been here, Memphis has a big freakin’ Pyramid downtown on the river. It was built in the 1990’s as a new civic arena which would (hopefully) attract an NBA team to the city. Well, for a lot of reasons I won’t go into in this thread, we got the NBA team, but they insisted we build them a brand new arena. Now the Pyramid is a big white elephant, and there are a lot of people wondering what the hell to do with it. Suggestions have ranged from “aquarium” to “casino”. But I have a better idea. I think the city should make it into a giant urban solar power plant. Sound wacky? Well, consider these positives:
It has enormous flat surfaces angled properly to capture the sun.
As will become apparent after perusing the photos below, it’s placement in the city is such that it always has unobstructed sunlight. No nearby buildings cast any significant shadows on the potetial collection surfaces. Plus, it is directly adjacent to the downtown electrical substation.
Memphis now has one of, if not the, largest solar panel manufacturing plant in the United States, run by Sharp, so the panels could be produced locally.
4)TVA, which supplies Memphis with its power, has a history of innovation and support for alternative power generation. Perhaps they would lend a hand and technical support.
The General Quesions:
How much power would the hypothetical Pyramid Power Plant produce? To know this, we will need to figure out the usable surface area of the Pyramid, the efficiency of the available solar panels, the amount of sunlight that falls on Memphis in the average year. I’ll tell you right now, as the temperature outside flirts with 100 degrees, that the answer to the third part is “a whole freakin’ lot.” But the surface area question is complicated by the fact that I was unable to find any measurements of the base of the structure online. The only hint as to how big the thing is comes from the official site above, which says the structure is 32 stories tall.
How much will this cost to do? I don’t really know how to calcualte this, since there are lots of variable to take into consideration. Paging Una!
Once the place is converted, would there still be space left over on the inside to continue to use it as an arena, convention meeting space, casino or aquarium?
I’d rather this not (d)evolve into a debate as to the pros and cons of solar power. Rather, let’s make this a case study. I’ll be happy to open a GD thread discussing what we’ve learned from this thought experiment and how it applies to the larger debate once we’ve got some numbers to kick around. And, of course, I know the best we can hope to come out of this with are back-of-the-envelope calculations, but that’s better than what I have now.
Thank you all, in advance, for applying a small part of your august minds to the problem.