You don’t see that headline every day; then again, there aren’t a great number of huge, creative, solar and plant-based national flags lying around.
A giant flag made of about 2.5 million desert plants and many solar panels is going to be built in South Africa. It will be huge, covering about 66 football fields and will be visible from space when completed. The target date for that is 2017, so it will be fairly soon.
Located in desert between Cape Town and Johannesburg it will generate enough electricity to power about 4,000 local homes, when there is adequate sunshine. The thing is, South Africa has an abundance of this free natural resource. In fact, it has about twice much as Europe, even though European countries like Germany are leading the world in solar power.
In other words, there is no reason why South Africa could not blow the doors off of Germany in solar power, at least in terms of raw potential.
It is expected that the millions of desert plants will remove CO2 from the atmosphere and help produce nutrients in the local soil. In human terms, it may attract tourists which could bring in some revenue for the area. (The unemployment rate near the intended site is about 40%.)
The project has the goal of both symbolizing ecological harmony and functioning that way. About 700 jobs will be created during the installation process. Arranging and planting all the live succulents will create most of them. Of course, taking care of them will be part of the work and ongoing maintenance.
Essentially the giant flag, which will resemble the South African national flag, will be a huge garden with a solar power plant.
Guy Lieberman conceived of the project, and sees it as, “an opportunity to do something dramatic and wonderful that embodies the spirit of the nation — beyond the politics and factions.”
Donations, partnerships and sponsorships — the typical kind of fundraising — has brought in some money so far, but a crowdsourcing campaign is in the works too. You can help by donating $10 for one succulent that will be planted to make the flag. These plants could live for over a hundred years, so you can’t beat that in terms of ‘bang for the buck’.
Image: Frederick Brownell