This wins for most charming solar concept based on a one-hit wonder from the ’80s, and maybe most charming solar concept ever: a power generating system inspired by the song “99 Red Balloons.” (But not by the [superior] German version, “99 Luftballons,” because that doesn’t specify color.) Ninety-nine red balloons float over New York City’s Freshkills Park, once a landfill, and create energy by using “transparent organic solar cells,” according to Design Taxi. The system theoretically could power 4,500 houses.

The Canadian team that came up with this idea submitted it to the Land Art Generator Initiative Competition for Freshkills Park, a contest seeking conceptual ideas that show “renewable energy can be beautiful.” This idea came in fourth, which is a little bit upsetting, since none of the other ideas involved catchy pop tunes.

Also, we understand the idea of 99 Red Balloons and its connection to “visions of loss, hope, memory, and the perseverance of dreams for a redemptive and meaningful future.” We do not understand this, which was part of the description of the winning project:

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as a channel screen, harnessing the flows of wind through the tidal artery, and as vantage points, staging crosswise pedestrian flows through the park, the two acting in combination as a mirror-window, reflecting and revealing the scene of Freshkills’ fluctuating landscape back to itself.

When someone tells us what that means, we’ll totally recognize its brilliance. Until then, we’ll just be over here, humming in German. 99 Luftballons … Auf ihrem Weg sum Horizont … la la la la la la la …

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