According to the BBC, a Glasgow architecture firm has won the International Design Awards Land and Sea competition with its proposal to anchor large lily-pad-shaped solar arrays in the middle of Glasgow's River Clyde (pictured). The firm is trying to sign the Glasgow City Council on for a small pilot project in conjunction with the city's science museum. The discs will allegedly rotate as the sun moves across the sky in order to maximize the panels' exposure.
So they'll generate clean electricity and also attract peoples' attention and activities to the river - sounds great. But by imitating lily pads, is it possible that this proposal could have more immediate effects on the River Clyde's ecosystem?
Plenty of urban rivers are too warm or too choked with algae to sustain much life, thanks to runoff that washes phosphates and other chemicals off from hot, sun-baked pavement. By shading the water, lily pads and other floating aquatic plants are able to divert some of the sun's energy from reaching the depths of a pond, which slows down algal growth and provides better habitat for critters.
Maybe too-warm rivers aren't such a big problem in Scotland, but they certainly are in a lot of American cities - especially on the west coast, where rivers like the Klamath and Willamette are getting too urbanized and too hot to sustain their ancient salmon populations. Maybe the shade of some solar lily pads would be just the ticket.