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Nov 202008

By John DeFore

East of Las Vegas, Times Square is surely the king of flashy, attention-grabbing and power-hungry signage. Soon, though, one of the intersection’s most novel advertisements will be one that doesn’t draw a single watt from the grid.

Artist\'s rendering

Construction is set to begin this month on a massive billboard for copying giant Ricoh, to be mounted at the corner of 7th Avenue and 42nd Street, that will run solely on wind and solar power generated at the site.

Forty-seven feet high by 126 feet long, the sign will be plain by Times Square standards — no video display, scrolling text, or flashing neon. It will be a plain white sign with enormous floodlights illuminating the company’s red logo.

Wind turbine

But as the company’s announcement explains, those floodlights will be “powered by 45 solar panels and 4 turbines for wind generation.” The company’s engineering suggests there’s plenty of breeze flowing through the concrete canyons to keep the lights on (especially given the makeup of these turbines, which aren’t the windmill-style that require wind blowing in a single direction), but on any occasion that wind and solar together can’t manage, the sign will simply go dark.

According to Ricoh (which has already test-driven this setup with a billboard in Osaka, Japan), the reportedly $3 million sign “will reduce the amount of CO2 usage by 18 tons per year” compared with an equivalent electric-powered sign and further demonstrate a commitment to environmental preservation that goes back more than 30 years.

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