Orkuverið Jörð (Powerplant Earth), Iceland
Powerplant Earth is located in Reykjanesvirkjun, a geothermal powerstation - constructed and operated by HS Orka - in one of the most active geothermal regions and most important lava fields in Iceland. Energy is life … from the ‘big bang’ theory of how the universe evolved, from the size of a grapefruit, to the harnessing of geothermal power in the Reykjanes peninsula, the exhibition shows how humankind has utilized different energy sources and how we benefit from it in our everyday lives.
To set the scene for new arrivals at Iceland's international airport in Keflavík, the entire Solar System has been scaled and placed at their correct scalar distance from the Sun so that the most distant planet, Pluto, is in Keflavík and the sun - at the centre of the Solar System - sits in the lava field at the front of the entrance to the exhibition. These planets - stainless steel scale models mounted onto basalt columns - provide tactile interpretative ‘touchpoints’ across the entire Reykjanes Peninsula. Powerplant Earth is a hands-on interactive experience using wide range media, blending conventional 2D and 3D installations with audiovisual and multimedia exhibits.
Working with its Icelandic partners, JANVS | VIDAR designed and built an award-winning Blue Diamond visitor experience that takes the visitor on an incredible journey of some 13.7 billion years. In The Big Bang, The Universe and Our Solar System, the first of four exhibition themes, visitors can listen to the earliest sounds of the cosmos, visit nebulae and galaxies in the most distant reaches of the universe, explore a black hole and travel, in a matter of minutes, through our entire Solar System, and end deep inside the centre of our Sun. In the next theme, the visitor is taken on a journey through Humankind's Use and Exploitation of Energy, in all its forms: interactive exhibits allow visitors to change one form of energy into several others, and back again; they can even use an archimedes screw to empty a bath and use the kinetic energy of the water to operate a fan which creates wind power that boils a kettle and makes a cup of tea! The third theme introduces the visitor to Alternative Energy Sources that provide an alternative to fossil fuels - solar, wind, hydrogen, hydro, geothermal, ethanol, nuclear - with interactive exhibits that show the pros and cons of each. The visitor can leave a legacy by voting on their preferred energy source for the future. In Iceland, nearly all electricity generation comes from 'green' environmental energy (hydro and geothermal) so the final theme looks at Geothermal Energy in Iceland which includes the exhibition's most impressive showpiece: the powerstation's twin 50MWe turbine set generating 100MWe of ‘green’ electrical power using a steam/brine mix at 290-320°C. This is the first time - anywhere in the world - that geothermal steam at such high temperature has been used for electrical generation and Reykjanesvirkjun alone produce enough energy to keep the capital city running! Geothermal power is not without its risks ... it can only be exploited in areas of high geothermal activity and that means earthquakes! An earthquake simulator allows the visitor to select any of Iceland's major earthquakes and experience, for themselves, the incredible energy that the Earth can deliver.