Advances in urban wind turbine technology

Roof wind turbines

Advances in urban wind turbine technology

Authored by Climate LinkUP Energy Correspondent & Ambassador, Kieran Heeley

Rooftop solar panels have become commonplace on houses in many parts of the world and can help reduce energy losses associated with transmission by using the energy at source, while reducing reliance on centralised energy production.

This is especially true in very hot climates where there is high solar potential and a high energy requirement in the middle of the day due to air conditioning. However, the solar potentially in many regions is far less and the higher energy requirement is in the winter for heating, which is out of sync with the solar energy. For example, the solar potential in Edinburgh is approximately half of that in Marrakech and in Edinburgh the total energy requirement in winter is far larger than summer. So that begs the question, could a similar product be produced from wind energy, which peaks in the winter and is more available in countries with less sun.

Previously, a lack sustained strong winds on a typical rooftop has typically made rooftop wind turbines unfeasible, except for some very rural areas. However, new technology has been developed that concentrates the wind onto an internal turbine, allowing more efficient energy production at lower wind speeds.

Such new technologies are allegedly capable of generating up to 50% more energy than equivalently priced solar technology. However, this would depend on location as some areas may have more sun or less wind and this would need to be considered on a case-to-case basis.

The two technologies are not completely incompatible however, the turbine being largely vertical and flat on the top means that solar panels could be included on or around the turbine. Therefore, this technology has the potential to provide localised renewable energy within an urban environment to complement solar or used in areas where rooftop solar is not a viable solution, helping reduce transmission losses and reliance on centralised production.

It will be interesting to see whether this technology can fulfil its potential as it develops from a prototype to commercial scale. 

Authored by Climate LinkUP Energy Correspondent & Ambassador, Kieran Heeley

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  1. Thanks for posting Kieran, for your information we are setting up a test lab for vertical wind turbines and solar as a hybrid in Lista arfield Norway. In addition we will also add a battery to test for micro grid opportunities, the idea is to understand better if we can increase power production throughout the year as it’s more windy wintertime and obviously better solar irradiation summer time. We are also keen to learn what effect this might have on birds as the location is closed for regular wind turbines as this is a prime bird habitat.