WellUrban

Personal reflections on urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design in Wellington, New Zealand.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

How is the air up there?


Wind turbine on office building in Manners St, WellingtonUrban turbines seem to be catching on. This vertical-axis turbine has recently popped up atop the "i-Centre" at 50 Manners St, there's a smaller one on top of the already environmentally-advanced Conservation House down the road, and the Vector Energy trial turbine that I wrote about in June will be installed on The Terrace. In addition, The Wellington Company plans to go beyond their installations at i-Centre and DOC to add turbines to six buildings along the Golden Mile "within the coming months".

My previous post attracted some sceptical comments, and there has indeed been some debate over the benefits or otherwise of microgeneration. My take on the issue is that it's wise to keep it all in context, beware of over-optimistic projections, and not think that they will obviate the need for large-scale wind farms. As part of a wider package of grid-based renewable energy, reverse metering, photovoltaics, solar water heating and efficiency measure, they could indeed become a viable small part of the solution, especially if the cost of large-scale generation rises.

Much of the criticism of roof-based turbines is based on the problems of "suburban turbines". Of course a turbine located close to the ground among all the roofs of a suburban street is going to have an unfavourable wind regime, and I can certainly imagine vibration problems coming from a turbine on a single-family home. But (without any real analysis), I'd suspect that a turbine mounted fifteen floors up in downtown Wellington is not going to struggle to get enough wind, and that you'd need a lot of vibration to affect a concrete office or apartment block. I look forward to seeing more of these, and getting some actual data on how useful they'll be in Wellington's very particular situation.

7 Comments:

At 9:38 AM, September 13, 2007, Blogger Jo said...

Urban turbine in Manners Street - Ah so that's what it is! I look out from my desk straight at it and had wondered.

It is quite hypnotic to watch and the way the blades catch the light in different lighting conditions actually makes it a lot nicer to look at than the mess of aerials on the building next door.

 
At 10:15 AM, September 13, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although, I think the building owners were quoted as saying its output was enough to power the foyer lights or some other small part of the buildings load,

Also of note, there is a turbine going up in waitangi park near the corner of Cable and Oriental Parade, will be interesting to see what design it is.

 
At 10:28 AM, September 13, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

"Although, I think the building owners were quoted as saying its output was enough to power the foyer lights or some other small part of the buildings load,"

Something like that: I seem to remember a figure like 15 light bulbs. Not much, though I imagine if that referred to 15 incandescents then you could power a lot more compact fluorescents with the same amount.

"there is a turbine going up in waitangi park near the corner of Cable and Oriental Parade, will be interesting to see what design it is."

Ah, very interesting! The original plans had three small HAWTs near there, and they were to be used to pump the Waitangi Stream water through the treatment systems. They could even have been direct mechanical power (more windmill than turbine), which makes a lot of sense for efficiency. They were dropped from the park, partly because of cost, but partly because Mt Vic residents (notably, Sir Geoffrey Palmer) complained about their views being spoiled.

 
At 4:24 PM, September 14, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember someone saying it wasn't enough to power a coffee machine....

 
At 2:07 AM, September 17, 2007, Anonymous Kevyn Miller said...

Here are the specs from the manufacturer's website.

http://www.pacwind.net/

DELTA I: $3,995.00 MSRP
-2kw Rated Power
-No cut-out speed.
-Cage dimensions of 78”d x 78”h
-Ideal for: homes, boats, buildings,
emergency power, remote power
-Available stacked in tower configurations
-Great in moderate to high wind
conditions.
-Safe in all wind conditions.

 
At 6:32 PM, September 17, 2007, Blogger 100word said...

It seems to be in a good spot for the wind. When I'm on my way to work it is usually spinning at a good pace.

 
At 5:52 PM, November 14, 2007, Blogger Richard said...

Oh dear. Lokks like it got blown off!

 

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