Monday, July 04, 2005

Micro Wind Power Turbines for UK Office Building

The BBC reports that an miniature urban wind farm is being built on top of a 13-storey building in Manchester city centre using micro wind turbines.

The 24 turbines, which will stand 3m tall, will be erected on top of the CIS building on Portland Street.

The turbines will produce 56,000 units of renewable energy each year, enough electricity to service about 5% of the energy needs of the building.

Co-operative Financial Services (CFS) are currently covering another of their bases, the CIS Tower, in solar energy panels.

The CIS Tower is one of the tallest buildings outside London in the UK and is being clad with three solar panels.

Once completed, it will be among the largest vertical displays of working solar panels in Europe.

CFS said its plans for an urban wind farm will make its Portland Street building the largest-ever commercial application of micro-wind turbines in the UK.

The company said it is now looking into placing the wind power micro-turbines on more of its 200 sites.

Gary Thomas, head of property and facilities at CFS, said taking a greener approach to business also had financial benefits.

"Embedding renewable energy in buildings reduces the need to buy electricity and I anticipate a payback on the initial investment within around three years," he said.

Ken Lewis, resources director added: "Forty per cent of Europe's energy use is associated with buildings and this project, along with the Solar Tower development, demonstrates that these piles of steel and concrete have tremendous potential for future energy generation."

Councillor Neil Swannick, Manchester City Council executive member for planning and the environment, has applauded the move saying CFS have made a practical contribution to energy conservation.

"The Manchester Energy Strategy endorses the view that wind turbines are not just for rural sites," he said.

"A world-class city such as Manchester has a responsibility to use energy more efficiently and to generate it from renewable sources where we can."

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Blogger Stewart C. Russell said...

It would be interesting to see if they ever publish production figures from these. Looks more like a PR stunt to me.

6:29 am, July 05, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not challenge them on it if you are so sure it is a stunt. Personally I think its a step in the right direction. How many other businesses are even attempting something of this nature?

1:47 am, July 06, 2005  
Blogger Danothebaldyheid said...

The Co-operative group is deeply ethically friendly and environmental factors are a large part of that. I bank with them and am very glad that I do. However, what I wondered was - why not put (a) large wind turbine(s) on top instead of many small ones? Surely more energy could be captured. Perhaps it would be structurally unsound, I guess - but new buildings could easily be designed with large turbines on top - why aren't they?

5:03 am, July 06, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's great that they're at least making an effort towards generating some of their own energy from clean energy sources. :-)

6:04 pm, July 07, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would it be possible to capture the wind hitting the side of a building. Perhaps lead and concentrate the wind streams and have turbine/propellers mounted vertically on the building.

Just an idea...

10:43 am, July 15, 2005  
Blogger darrenk said...

It is currently impractical to put a utility-scale wind turbine on top of a building because the vibration caused by the turbine will make the building structurally unsafe. I believe this is more of a PR stunt than anything else. Will the percentage of energy saved by the company offset the energy used to process the materials going into the turbines? I do not think so. Wind turbines are built on large towers to maximize efficiency and minimize damage (increase the overall life of the turbine). Placing a turbine 3 meters above the top of the building will cause significant damage to the turbine blades due to the uneven flow of air off of the building. These airflows make the turbine very inefficient.

10:44 am, July 16, 2005  
Blogger eZinne said...

I'm in the skeptical camp, being generally discouraged by thoughtless media fawning over politically correct topics in general. The ONLY immediate benefit I see is the slight enlargment of the market for such devices -- which might even enable a more practical installation somewhere at a (very) slightly lower cost. Most of these PR jobs are dismantled in a few years and then someone will likely get some real benefit by picking up this equipment at a nice price. Someone remind me to talk to the manager unless of course you scooped it first!

And now to the directly negative effect. This project, if not directly subsidized, will certainly be counted as a business expense, and therefore tax deductable. This means that the cost comes from the hide of the public - who get no benefit and are prevented from taking similar action by having to pay high taxes to support such largesse.

This is something the liberalistic eco industrialist will never tell you.

Only sustainable/ repeatable ideas are worthwhile.

8:26 pm, July 16, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PR stunt or not,it is wise that at least some effort is being made in the direction of renewables. It is much better than doing nothing at all.

Perhaps some day, laws will be passed requiring new buildings to invest 5-10% of construction costs into some form of renewable energy. What we need are building codes which incorperate renewable energy into their design as promoting responsiblity construction practices. We now have "green" buildings with some new houses, with one Wal-Mart store and possibly with a Mormon shopping center.

I do think that the Manchester project is following good thinking on this matter, efficient or not because it indicates functionality of design that we should be considering in the future.

I think that some type of shock absorber system could be worked out if larger wind generator turbines were used.

11:00 pm, July 27, 2005  
Blogger efpalinos said...

Installing bigger, more powerful wind turbines on top of buildings have serious structural implications as well as several issues regarding building regulations and codes. Wind turbulence and generally lower wind speeds in urban environments probably reduce efficiency. The most serious problem though arises from noise. Wind turbines are very noisy indeed and they do get more noisy as they increase in size. I think the decision to opt for smaller turbines is probably correct. Further monitoring would be necessary to demosntrate the efficiencies achieved and any other practical issues that will inevitably arise. It's a good start and shoudl be seen positive!

3:33 pm, September 13, 2005  
Blogger Aruna Seneviratne said...

The money spent on these building mounted turbines would go further if it was used to purchase electricity from a wind farm.

To illustrate this: The area swept by the 24 turbines - assuming each has a 3 metre diameter - is 170 square metres. For comparison, the latest Vestas wind turbines have a diameter of 90 metres, sweeping over 6300 square metres.

Assuming that economies of scale hold (and they surely must, or wind turbine makers would not be continually striving to make larger turbines) 24 small wind turbines cannot compete with one larger, more efficient wind turbine.

Additionally, these turbines are on a building in Manchester city and probably more located so that employees can get there easily, rather than because the area has the best wind speeds.

There is a finite amount of money to be spent on renewable energy so it should be spent in the best possible way. Putting small, expensive and badly sited turbines does not make financial sense when you can buy green electricity from better sited, efficient wind farms.

The BBC could have probably bought the electricity for themselves and their neighbours with that money. Unfortunately, what is good for headlines is not always best for the environment.

1:53 pm, October 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For your politically correct carpers and detractors tthe Ecotricity WINDFARM in Lincolnshire supplies Co-operative Financial Services with 9 million units of renewable energy each year.

7:20 am, December 13, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The ECOTRICITY WINDFARM in Lincolnshire supplies Co-operative Financial Services with 9 million units of revewable electricity each year

7:24 am, December 13, 2005  
Blogger oregonjim said...

About the publicity stunt angle: hoorah! At this stage of the evolution of wind power, placing small turbines atop a building where all can see provides a reminder to the public that this is possible. It keeps us all aware of the issue and the goal, which should be to remove wind generation from distant wind farms to the places where the energy will be used, to generate it on-site and save on constructing the transmission lines as well as the voltage drop that wastes energy.
About the turbines themselves: What models were purchased and at what cost per kW capacity? They seem to be horizontal axis wind turbines (HAWTs). The alternative would be to install vertical axis wind turbines (VAWTs) that rotate around a central pole much like a merry-go-round. Although normally less efficient that HAWTs, they fit well on buildings for several reasons:
- turbulence doesn't affect them so much;
- they don't vibrate or make as much noise;
- they can be stacked to achieve higher
production; and
- they can be mounted along the corners and vertical walls of the building as well as on top.
There is at least one very promising producer of VAWTs in England, and I would assume that the bank would want to support them at least by installing a few demonstration units on their building to test them.

2:48 pm, April 12, 2006  
Blogger Sander Mertens said...

Looks interesting. Watch out for the wake close to the roof. Your wind turbines should at least be some 5 m above the roof in order to operate above the turbulence and to have a good energy yield. Normally, we provide CFD calculations before installing the wind turbines in order to be aware of possible problems. Info will soon be available on

4:29 am, May 31, 2006  
Blogger TheFlamingBush said...

This is a fantastic idea!....i have been heralding the idea for almost 5 years now. with over 90 million houses and buildings available in Britain to put small turbines atop, it would be insane to ignore this available resourse any longer.

We have chimneys, why not a small wind turbine. Many people doing a little achieve a lot!

The next move is to move from a petrol powered society to a hydrogen powered one, so that we can store all the electricity generated by these wind turbines, so as to sustain our love of cars. Hydrogen can be burnt to provide heat in winter as well, to run turbines, ect.....and so long as the earth remains going around the sun, and the moon continues to go around the earth, the wind will continue to blow!....nature provides, all we have to do is farm that which is given freely.

The idea is to spread the load. Wind farms are a great idea, but in CONJUNCTION with small household wind turbines, and other wind turbine technology development we will undoubtedly be moving in the right direction.

Nuclear?.....where do you put the waste?

Petrol?......why pay for something that you can get for free?

Gas?......partly useful, but more as a source of energy to create a unified hydrogen economy.

a Multiplicity of small Hydrogen refilling stations, with a computorized wind turbine tank burried in the ground along the motorways and a tank in your roof, will give everyone the chance to STORE the energy you are farming with your wind turbine.



8:18 am, October 22, 2006  

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