Such a sculpture is functionally both a renewable energy generator and an artwork, fulfilling utilitarian, aesthetic, and cultural functions. The idea of renewable energy sculptures have been pioneered by ecofuturist visionaries such as artists Sarah Hall, Julian H. Scaff, Patrick Marold, architects Lauri Chetwood and Nicholas Grimshaw, and University of Illinois professor Bil Becket. Echoing the philosophy of the environmental art movement as a whole, the visionaries working in renewable energy sculpture believe that the aesthetics of the artworks are inextricably linked to their ecological function.
Artist and filmmaker Julian H. Scaff has been working for several years with creating wind turbines that are also public artworks. In 2006 he proposed turning a planned wind farm in Nantucket Sound, Massachusetts into an enormous public artwork by dazzle painting the wind turbines and transforming the visual quality of both the machines and the landscape. His visionary Venturi Towers designed for the island of Crete incorporate the scientific principle of the Venturi Effect into sculpted towers that, in spite of their considerable size, blend seamlessly into the landscape. Scaff says that "We should think more freely about the aesthetics of wind turbines. Scaff's proposed Carbon Sink Sculptures are public artworks that utilize solar energy for carbon capture and storage.
Patrick Marold's Windmill Project in Vail, Colorado developed out of the artist's desire to create a visual map of the wind as well as to harness it's behavior. On the slopes of the Rocky Mountains he installed hundreds of small windmills, each with a light whose intensity matches the intensity of the wind. Marold explains "This sculpture momentarily embraces the wind allowing for a more attainable vision of this natural element, systematically creating a slight delay in the viewers’ sense of time. Some people have compared the visual representation to that of a flock of birds collectively swarming in the sky, or the uniquely animate northern lights. The impressive living body of light provokes a deeper perspective of the wind as it passes by.
Architect Nicholas Grimshaw, designer of the Eden Project, has designed an enormous sea-based wind turbine sculpture called the Grimshaw Aerogenerator The double-masted structure rotates very slowly compared to typical wind turbines, only three times per minute, yet generates up to nine megawatts of power.