Thursday, July 03, 2008

Ricoh to install massive wind/solar-powered electronic billboard in Times Square

Thanks to Yahoo for the news, but Engadget for the spiffy image (a mockup, granted, but I think it gets the point across):

Despite some of our arguments that digital billboards may in fact be a greener option than other forms of in-store and out-of-home marketing, there's always that one lingering issue... they use a lot of power, whereas static posters and non-backlit signs don't, once they're in place. Well, it looks like Ricoh is tackling that problem on a very large scale, as the billboard they're fixing to put into Times Square measures 47 feet (14 meters) high by 126 feet (38 meters) long. Its floodlights will be powered on site by 45 solar panels and four wind turbines. As the article notes:

The result will reduce carbon dioxide usage by 18 tons a year, [Ricoh Americas Corp. spokesman Russell Marchetta] said.

The office automation equipment and electronics supplier already has an electronic sign in Osaka, Japan, that is 100 percent solar- and wind-powered.

The first solar-powered billboard in the United States came last year when Pacific Gas and Electric erected one in San Francisco. in

The new billboard will wrap around the corner of Seventh Avenue and 42nd Street. The exact image is yet to be announced, though an artist's rendering with a dummy image has been released.

On days lacking enough solar or wind power, the sign will go un-illuminated, Marchetta said.

Ok, I'm a little confused here. The beginning of the article clearly states the billboard is electronic -- and honestly, could you see anything less than a giant electronic billboard flying in Times Square these days? However, the rest of the article says that the solar/wind generators are being used for backlighting. So it sounds like there might be some other portion that runs off of regular, more polluting electricity? Or maybe part of the sign will be electronic (and traditionally powered), but the larger portion that says Ricoh in the mockup above will be static and backlit by solar- and wind-powered lights.

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