Roof Top Wind Energy

Published by Enviroman on May 14, 2008 - 10:39pm

Condominium and Co-op Apartment associations and owners of larger commercial buildings can reduce their electricity costs and go green by installing wind energy on their roofs. The technology is here. All it takes is some persisitence.

Conventional energy wisdom envisions wind farms in remote areas far away from people. Getting the electricity to where it's needed will be a real challenge since large interstate high voltage lines have not been built in the last 25 years. Take a look at the picture below and you'l understand why.

Relative sizes of electric power lines

Instead, we could build wind energy systems on the roofs of commercial and residential buildings in major cities where there's great demand for the energy.

The U.S. Department of Energy's report entitled 20% Wind Energy by 2030 [PDF 4.0 mb] makes a strong case for wind energy. The report says that wind energy could provide 20 percent of electricity needed in the US by 2030. That's the good news. Will we ever see that happen? I doubt it.

That's because achieving this goal depends on building new high voltage power lines to get the electricity from the remote parts of the midwest to where it's needed. Also, most newspapers are filled with daily accounts of communities and States opposing high voltage power lines proposed by energy companies.

We don't need new energy laws either. In fact, the States are challenging the new energy law passed in 2005 over establishing national electric transmission corridors. Even in large urban areas, where existing power lines are at capacity, it is very hard to build a new power line even if it is underground.

Cities could lead the way
Helix wind turnbine is ideal for urban environmentWhile cities are crowded and congested at street level, it's a different world at the roof top level. Vast flat areas marked occasionally by heating and air conditioning systems, and some antennas make up roof tops in most major cities. These area are out of site and out of mind for the most part, except if you live in a taller building overlooking a roof.

Wind energy projects on roof tops make a lot of sense. Here's why we think that it is worth considering wind energy for a roof in on a residential or commercial buoilding in large cities:

  1. Wind speed increases with height,
  2. Flat roofs are plentiful in cities,
  3. Most Flat roofs are not being used for anything else,
  4. Wind energy turbines would be not be visible on the taller buildings,
  5. The wind energy generated could be used by the building and excess sold right back to the electricity utility,
  6. Wind energy projects may be eligible for State and Federal Grants,
  7. You would not have to build large power lines across large distances and impact the environment.
  8. Wind energy gets us away from using natural gas which is major fuel to generate electricity

What Areas are Good for Wind Energy
The Midwestern region from Texas to North Dakota, is rich in wind energy resources. Wind turbines operate between 164 and 328 feet above the ground. At these heights, the DOE said that U.S. land-based and offshore wind resources could supply the electrical energy needs of the entire country several times over. That would mean reducing our dependency on natural gas and other fossil fuels.

The best areas for wind are marked in dark red, blue and purple.

Map of wind energy resources in United States
The DOE report also identified other areas that are very good for wind energy. These include certain parts of the east and west coasts, and the areas around the Great Lakes. Condominium and Coop Apartment Associations in cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and other areas where wind resources are good should consider this.

Personally, we think that people like Donald Trumph who owns very large buildings should consider wind energy. Any building that could generate renewable energy would set itself apart from all others and appeal to environmentally conscious owners and residents alike.

Nuts and Bolts
Siting a wind energy project on the roof top is going to take a great deal of planning. Energy management companies could be helpful since they are familiar with local codes. They may also be able to advise you of Federal and State grants. See what renewable energy incentives are available.

Some of you may also be thinking that the typical wind turbines found on wind farms are not going to be suitable for roof tops in Chicago or Manhattan. You may be right. That's why we've also included two videos on a company like Helix Wind and inventor Graeme Attey to give you an idea of what other wind systems look like. [Disclosure: We are not associated with these companies and are not being paid to include them].

Graeme Attey
Helix Wind Video

 

Comments

I found this short article on the Popular Science website. Found the idea interesting. See http://www.popsci.com/scitech/article/2008-05/ten-times-turbine

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