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Cholo Power 
Peru (2012)
Research on the energy potential of Peruvian Coast

The search for alternative sources of clean and renewable energy finds a new reserve: the tenacity of Peruvians. That is the starting point for the creation of a different type of building. A building that instead of consuming energy, produces it: The Cholo Power Tower. The scion of the breeding between the increasingly popular gym and the increasingly unpopular hydroelectric power station. This cardio-electric takes advantage of the possibility of generating energy through the pedaling of bicycles. "Exercise a little and light a bulb" says a sign in the entrance.
The Cholo Power Tower has the same dimensions as the Westin Lima: 30 floors of 30mx30m each. It concentrates 15,000 cyclists that produce 4500kWh of clean energy. 15 thousand people pedaling to turn on 125 thousand fluorescents or 11 thousand computers. Although it sounds a lot, 15 thousand people pedaling would only supply 56 homes. In fact, to supply all Lima's electricity consumption, 213,000 Cholo Power Towers would be needed, which means 3,200 million cyclists. Half a world pedaling for Lima. The most multitudinous energetic Teleton imaginable.
As with the "green architecture" initiatives, it is more symbolic and well-intentioned than truly useful. In times when green is the new religion and the new style, the confusion on the subject is huge. Sins and penances can already be measured in kilowatt-hours and it is very easy to go from the naivety of the energy-saving bulb to the cynicism of the profitable "greenwashing".
In recent years, we ourselves, in our projects, have made all kinds of attempts to make a considerate and responsible architecture, from failed solar panels -due to the inefficiency of this technology in ever cloudy Lima- to successful green roofs and other bioclimatic resources, but because they made sense to the respective project and its surroundings. Not because of any ecological militancy that we obviously do not profess. We are fully aware that they do not have a real transcendence at the ecosystem level. And the fact is, that the real scale in which a contribution to the sustainability of the environment must be valued, is precisely in the large scale, and within that, Peru can operate without any guilt.
The total energy consumption (coal, oil, gas, nuclear, hydroelectric, etc.) per capita of Peru is less than 500 kilos of the oil equivalent. This means that each Peruvian consumes 5700Kwh per year, while in Chile, Mexico or Argentina they consume 20,000kwh. In countries like Holland, Japan or France between 50 and 60 thousand kwh. (10 times more than us) United States and Canada about 100,000 kwh.
However, it's not about consuming too little for being poor. If we correlate the energy we consume with what we produce with it (GDP), it is a revealing conclusion: There is no country in the world that produces more with as little energy as Peru. For each kwh consumed per capita, it manages to produce $1.63. It is followed by Hong Kong with $1.52 and Uruguay with $1.48, then Panama, Colombia, Congo, Botswana, Costa Rica, Gabon and only in the tenth place is Switzerland with $1 per kwh consumed.
Weren’t Australia, Sweden or the United States the leaders in energy efficiency? They do not even produce $0.60 per kwh. What about Dubai or Qatar that do not even reach $0.40? Paradoxically, there it is built "Masdar: the most sustainable city in the world" by Sir Norman Foster, one of the top gurus of the energetic-efficient architecture and also the "visionary green buildings" that will host the 2022 soccer world cup.
What is the secret of Peruvian success - and Arab failure - in energy efficiency? Location, location, location. 56% of the Peruvian population lives in the valleys of the coast: the most benign climate in the world. Temperatures that oscillate between 14 and 28ºc, calm sea winds of 11-14 km/h, and between 11 and 13 hours of light per day due to the equatorial latitude.
If a building in Peruvian coastal valleys consumes a lot of energy, that is to say in air conditioning and lighting, it has to be badly designed.
Is it a priority to continue importing technologies, certifications and international experts to improve the energy performance of our buildings? Are we not importing solutions for problems that we do not have?
The emphasis on reducing energy consumption and CO2 emissions as the priority, clouds the perspective of real priorities to achieve a better world.
As Danish environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg puts it, both in his controversial book "The Skeptical Environmentalist" (1998) and in documentary ”Cool It" (2007), the elaborate and costly actions proposed for examples in the Kyoto Protocol have not been thought in rational terms from real cost/benefit to the planet. If all countries signed and implemented Kyoto, the expected temperature reduction would be 0.16ºC for the year 2100. The average temperature of the land will have risen by 2.6ºC by 2105 at an estimated cost of 180 billion dollars per year. Under a cost-benefit scheme, the result of avoiding the emission of 1 tonne of CO2 at a cost of $5 results in $2 of benefits for humanity. However, the benefit of those same $5 results in $200 if they are prepared to prevent HIV or $150 if they are willing to mitigate malnutrition.
Therefore, it is important to differentiate what is done by the environment to create awareness (with little or no concrete statistical effect) and what can be done for humanity in effective terms, but that probably has less to do with what usually It is known as ‘green’. 
A few months ago, Bill Gates, in an interview for "Wired" magazine comments that solar panels (so visibly associated with a sustainable lifestyle) are "beautiful" but they will hardly be able to solve global energy issues, as Nuclear power plants can do (and that was stated even after Fukushima).
Then we must begin to question: what is really working vs. what is mediatically correct? ... and above all: where should we prioritize?
If you ask any average professional what his/her perception is about a sustainable lifestyle, surely he/she will mention a house in the countryside, with plenty of fresh air, likely with green roofs, solar panels, and recycled water, etc., etc.
However, in this photo we have forgotten the economy as one of the 3 legs of sustainability. In other words, there is nothing less efficient and economic than dispersion, and the opposite, density, allows to concentrate and save many resources in a small space.
We must think that there are no solutions that will automatically solve the environmental problem, but rather there will have to be a combination of many decisions made with the correct and specific information for each place.

The Peruvian coast has an area of 140 thousand km2 and 15 million people live in it. If we host a massive immigration with a density like San Borja or Villa El Salvador neighborhoods (100 inhabitants / Ha) we could have a population of 1,400 million inhabitants consuming very little energy without air conditioning or heating. All this population equals the migration of all citizens from the 48 countries with the biggest energy inefficiencies: Russia, Indonesia, Venezuela, Canada, South Africa, the Arab countries, among others. Then its depopulated territories could become natural reserves.

DESIGN TEAM: César Becerra, Manuel de Rivero, Fernando Puente Arnao 

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