The exhibition aims to not only showcase innovative ways of harnessing solar power, but to encourage visitors to imagine a world primarily fuelled by solar energy.
Exhibits including a photovoltaic table and a wearable solar dress feature alongside playful artworks that highlight the ecological and social impact of solar energy.
The exhibition starts with a historical timeline, where highlights include construction of the first solar-powered home – the Dover Sun House designed by Maria Telkes – in 1948.
"I was thinking about the Prince song lyric, 'Welcome to the new power generation'," curator Matylda Krzykowski told Dezeen during a tour of the exhibition.
"In order to understand this new power generation, we have to understand where this obsession with the sun started," she said.
"I wanted to show how sun worship has shaped everything from architecture to theatre, as well showing pictures of these extreme inventions from the past."
Among the most impactful works on show are The New Sun by Agnieszka Polska, a film that personifies the sun into a character that uses song, jokes and poetry to reflect on the state of the world.
Other highlights include Living with the Sun, a student project by Boudewijn Buitenhek that saw the designer live in a rented apartment without gas or electricity for week.
The next part of the show features works that extend the conversation beyond the technological possibilities of solar energy.
Presented on disposable medicine packets, Imre Szeman's On Solarity: Eight Principles offers guidelines for managing the social and political possibilities of a solar economy.
Photographer Mirka Laura Severa presents images that tell the story of a fictional artist whose work can only be viewed with sunglasses.
"It was important to me that the exhibition was narrative," said Krzykowski. "I wanted to do more than just show how designers, artists and architects have worked with the sun."
The show concludes with a library filled with solar-themed books and objects, plus a range of new solar proposals submitted by artists and designers.
The Energy Show forms part of the Solar Biennale, an initiative from solar designers Marjan van Aubel and Pauline van Dongen taking place from 9 September to 30 October in venues across Rotterdam.
The event was preluded by an installation at Milan design week called the Solar Energy Kiosk, which offered up orange juice made using solar energy. The Solar Energy Kiosk will be installed at the entrance to Het Nieuwe Instituut for the duration of The Energy Show.
The exhibition photography is by Aad Hoogendoorn.
The Energy Show is being exhibited at Het Nieuwe Instituut from 3 September 2022 to 5 March 2023. See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.
This article is part of Dezeen's Solar Revolution series, which explores the varied and exciting possible uses of solar energy and how humans can fully harness the incredible power of the sun.