“Solar Canopy” Unveiled in Dubai


Nora Cooper, Writer

At Dubai’s 2017 World Government Summit in February, a prototype for a new design for solar power was unveiled.

Italian architect and designer Carlo Ratti created a metal canopy that can be used to create micro climates in outdoor areas by controlling light and shade.

The “Solar Canopy” has a roof made of round mirrors, each with their own motor, so they can be individually angled to reflect different amounts of sunlight and provide different amounts of shade at different times. The aim is to curb the heat that makes public areas in places like Dubai “unlivable” during the hottest times, Ratti says.


They help generate power by reflecting the sun’s rays onto a solar panel placed nearby.


While the prototype is just six- by- six meters and sensitive to rain, the hope for the future version is for the canopy to be able to cover full courtyards and be waterproof.


Ratti also says the canopy can be an art piece, as the mirrors can be programmed to create beautiful patterns or spell out words in the canopy’s shadow. “It’s a new way to play with the sun,” he says.


“It’s about trying to understand the realities of climate change and how we might be able to turn the challenges of the coming decades into opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship,” says Noah Raford, chief operating officer at the Dubai Future Foundation.


He is hopeful for more renewable technologies to be used across Dubai, and solar power in particular, with several solar farms currently under construction in the desert. “There’s plenty of sunshine in Dubai, and the government hope to reach 75% renewables by 2050.”