30 Quai des Charbonnages
Koolmijnenkaai, 1080 Brussels
Art Center for Digital Cultures & Technology

DISNOVATION.ORG & Baruch Gottlieb — Solar Share (The Coins)

DISNOVATION.ORG & Baruch Gottlieb
Solar Share (The Coins), 2020

Installation ; plexiglass frames ; coins made of plastic waste (Precious Plastic, PET) ;

The controversial concept of Emergy [1] attempts a comprehensive accounting of the energy stocks and flows involved in the reproduction of life, and thus of human activities on the planet. Emergy allows for factors such as extremely slow and vast processes to be acknowledged as vital contributions to life, one we can no longer take for granted in an age of accelerating technological advance. Solar energy emerges as central in Emergy modelling, responsible for most of the sources of energy we rely upon today, including wind, tides and, especially, fossil fuels.

Some areas of the world get more sunlight than others, some “use” more sunlight than others. In Europe we are able to use considerably more energy than we receive from the sky through imports in various concentrated forms, principally petroleum, coal and natural gas. Brussels is one of the 5 least sunny cities in Europe, receiving only 3 kWh/m2 on an average day, and only 1000 kWh/m2 a year [2], yet Brussels’ energy consumption is comparable to most European cities.

Solar Share coins are made of PET plastic, a petroleum bi-product, ancient sunlight concentrated in organic material over millions of years. A few grams of PET has the same embodied energy as 1m2 of yearly solar irradiation in Brussels.

How might our understanding of economics change if the instruments we used for money had an equivalent value to the solar energy required to materially produce them? As a speculative response, each Solar Share coin embodies the average solar irradiation received at a specific urban location.

[1] The Emergy methodology is based on the theory by Howard T. Odum.
[2] Solargis, Global Horizontal Irradiation.


iMAL (Brussels), Chroniques (Aix-En-Provence).
Web developer : Jérôme Saint-Clair
Special thanks to Olivier Le Corre and Laurent Truffet (École des mines de Nantes).

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