There Is A Giant Wind Farm Hiding Inside This Supertall Skyscraper

The 99-story Pertamina Energy Tower in Indonesia will power itself on solar, wind, and geothermal.
The 99-story Pertamina Energy Tower in Jakarta plans to generate all its own energy from wind, solar, and geothermal energy.

When Indonesian energy company Pertamina decided to build a new headquarters, it went big: Not only is the design 99 stories high, but it will be the first supertall tower in the world to generate its own power.

At the top of the building, a funnel captures wind, sucks it inside, and speeds it up to run a series of vertical wind turbines. Other buildings on the new campus will be covered in solar panels. Pertamina is also working with its architecture firm, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM), to vet the possibility of using geothermal power–a type of energy that’s uniquely suited for Indonesia because it’s a volcanic island chain.

Geothermal systems in Indonesia can tap into superheated subterranean steam with a single pipe, unlike typical systems that are more complicated, says Scott Duncan, the SOM director who led the project. “It would essentially provide an unlimited energy source for the tower and campus and could make the tower the world’s first energy-positive supertall building.”

The design is just as focused on saving energy as generating it. Sun-shading “leaves” on two sides of the building cut glare and shade the brightest sunlight while still keeping the inside of the offices bright enough to avoid most artificial lighting. Instead of power-sucking air conditioners, the building uses water-based radiant cooling systems.

Along with other strategies, the energy-saving design elements mean that the campus–which will include a mosque, a performing arts and exhibition center, and sports facilities along with the office space–can keep energy use low enough that renewable power may be able to cover its entire energy needs.

“We are striving for complete energy independence,” says Duncan. Part of the motivation is purely practical. Jakarta still has an unreliable power grid, and if the campus generates its own power, work (and play) won’t get interrupted. The buildings also won’t have to rely on diesel fuel generators if the city’s power goes down.

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