The Expo Blog is a space for posts on the history, themes, legacies and experience of Expos. It includes articles from the BIE and external contributors.
The Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) is the intergovernmental organization in charge of overseeing and regulating World Expos, International Specialized Expos, Horticultural Exhibitions and the Design Triennale di Milano.
Imagine a house that generates all of its own energy, collects its own water and efficiently manages its waste system - an autonomous house. The technology for such self-sufficient homes, able to meet the pressing energy demands of the future, is available today, by using a combination of alternative energy sources such as geothermal energy, solar panels, wind turbines and hydropower.
A fully functional, working model of a self-sufficient home was showcased in the Oikos pavilion (meaning “house” in Greek) at Expo 2008 Zaragoza. Putting innovative solutions to the use of reduced energy and water consumption encapsulated the theme of the Expo – “Water and Sustainable Development.”
Fuel cells, a promising and virtually limitless energy source that can be used for various applications including transportation, portable appliances and stationary installations, were first discovered in 1839 by Sir William Grove. However, it is only in the past two decades that the technology has become a viable and practical solution. With water as its only by-product, fuel cell technology is in line to become one of the key next-generation solutions for Future Energy.
This forward-looking and eco-friendly technology, which involves an electrochemical process where hydrogen and oxygen are converted into water to produce electricity, was showcased at Expo 2005 Aichi in Japan via a fleet of specially designed buses.
Energy consumption in buildings accounts for over one third of final energy consumption globally. The OECD estimates that buildings account for more than 40% of energy consumption in developed countries, largely through electricity use.
Fortunately, buildings have the capacity to make a significant contribution to a more sustainable future, if energy-saving methods are integrated into their design. An early example of sustainable construction was showcased at Expo 1992 Seville, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. The United Kingdom’s pavilion at Expo 1992 embodied the concept of energy self-sufficiency by combining avant-garde architecture with the capacity to generate renewable energy such as solar power.
On 28 April 1967, the gates to Expo 1967 Montreal opened to the public, marking the start of a new and modern era for the city. The Expo, which celebrated 100 years of Canadian Confederation and 325 years since Montreal’s founding, was a major accomplishment for the city and for Canada.
During the six months that the Expo was open, 50 million people passed through the turnstyles, eager to discover the latest innovations and explore different interpretations of the theme “Man and His World” (in French: Terre des hommes).
Extreme weather conditions and rising global temperatures are leading researchers to reconsider unconventional solutions such as Space-Based Solar Power (SBSP), as envisioned by scientists since the 1960s. This would be the perfect solution to climate change because solar power captured in outer space would not be vulnerable to poor weather, have zero greenhouse gas emissions and be unaffected by day and night cycles, unlike 23% of current incoming solar energy.
This untapped potential for Space-Based Solar Power was revealed when Telstar 1 (the world’s first active communication satellite) was used to beam scenes from Expo 1962 Seattle and transmit the first intercontinental television broadcast. The sphere satellite was powered by 3,600 solar cells and weighed over 77 kilos. It was a joint project by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and the British and French governments, which broadcasted a panoramic view of the striking Space Needle and other interesting sights and sounds from the Expo.