Let there be light – artist brings solar poem to COP26

Energy & Climate Change

From Karen Thomas in Glasgow

Glasgow's dreech autumn nights are shining a little brighter during COP26, thanks to Robert Montgomery installing this light poem, Grace of the Sun, on the waterfront to mark this month’s climate summit.

Raised as ‘a beacon of hope’, the light poem urges COP26 to commit to switch to renewable energy and invest in solar power to tackle climate change and energy poverty.

Montgomery produced the artwork with Little Sun, Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson’s clean-energy start-up, supplying solar power to 600 million people in sub-saharan Africa. Little Sun has delivered solar power to more than three million people so far.

Grace of the Sun is 11m wide, 5m high and uses 1,000 solar-powered Little Sun lights. When COP26 ends, the installation will be dismantled and the lights reused.

Solar power is underdeveloped, providing just 3 per cent of global power demand. Investing in it could transform access to energy for people living in the global south.

“The climate crisis is here; we know what needs to be done,” Eliasson says. “We have the knowledge and technology to transition within the next decade to a world powered by renewable energy.

Grace of the Sun helps us to recognise that our lives are inextricably linked to our surroundings, to structures and systems and people beyond our local context. If we expand our sphere of care to encompass the natural elements that support life, we can formulate a vision of a positive future for the generations to come.”

Montgomery was born in Scotland and lives in London. His place-based installations combine light and text, famously in a series of fire poems. “This project is a beacon of hope,” he says.

“Instead of looking under the ground for energy, we should have been looking up. A solution is visible to us all the time, every day; the sun. I hope others across the world will join us to tell the story of solar’s powerful source for good.”

Grace of the Sun stands on the north bank of the Clyde at Glasgow’s arts and climate-justice pop-up, the Landing Hub, at Broomielaw. Local people and climate visitors are invited to the daily lighting-up event, from 1400-1600hrs

Share this article

Become a member

Whether you are studying, actively looking to progress your career, or already extensively experienced, our membership will add value and recognition to your achievements. We can actively help you progress throughout your career.

Become a member

View our events

We organise a wide portfolio of UK and international thought leading events, providing an industry recognised forum for debate, CPD and sector networking. These events also support our policy work and inform key initiatives.

View our events