Zero emissions in the desert

Eckhard Gerber, a German architect, is to build office towers in Riyadh, Dubai and Bahrain that produce all their own energy. The zero emissions office building has arrived! The 68-storey state-of-the-art 322-m Burj al-Taqa ("Energy Tower") in Dubai not only will consume very little energy, but will also produce all its energy itself. The tower's cylindrical shape is designed to expose as little surface area to the sun as possible. A protective solar shield reaches from the ground to the roof, covering 60 degrees of the giant circular building. It protects the side most affected from the sun's glaring rays, ensuring that none of the rooms are exposed to direct sunlight. New vacuum glazing will protect occupants from searing temperatures in summer. A 60-m turbine on the tower roof and two photovoltaic facilities with a total area of 15 000 m2 will produce sufficient electricity to meet the building's needs. Additional energy is provided by an island of solar panels with an area of 17 000 m2 which drifts in the sea close to the tower. The excess electricity will be used to obtain hydrogen from the sea water by means of electrolysis, which is then stored in special tanks. During the night, the energy facility uses fuel cells to generate electricity, keeping the tower working through the hours of darkness. In daytime, reflective mirrors on the roof direct the sunlight onto a cone of light that goes through the centre of the building and provides its array of floors with natural light.