Keele University recently had a new “flat pack” wind turbine installed on its campus. It is intended to address the problems that wind turbine setups have in urban areas.
McCamley UK installed the turbine, which is the first of that product line to be installed in the UK, but previously, a prototype of the turbine was installed in Bulgaria. It is a vertical-axis wind turbine (VAWT) that has an electricity generation capacity of 1,000 watts (1 kilowatt).
The chief executive of McCamley, Scott Elliot, said that he hopes this new wind turbine would be able to fill a gap in the wind industry for wind turbines that operate in towns and cities.
Field trials have shown that the turbine starts generating electricity at a low wind speed of 1.8 metres per second (4 mph, or 3.5 knots), and a self-regulating system enables the turbine to safely operate at high wind speeds as well without damage caused by excessive stress.
Cities are not usually very windy, and this makes it difficult for wind turbines to pay for themselves in these locations. McCamley claims their new turbine design addresses this issue.
Buildings tend to obstruct wind, and cities tend to be populated with many buildings. Despite this, buildings can, in some cases increase wind speed via the Venturi effect. The Venturi effect takes place when a high-pressure fluid, such as air, is forced through a pathway that reduces its pressure, but increases its velocity (speed).
A simple example of the Venturi effect is a squirt nozzle. It basically exchanges pressure in favour of velocity. The stream of the fluid that is subjected to the speed increase is actually narrowed in the process.
“Wind energy has huge potential in the UK, but the traditional wind farm models are just not effective and are certainly not suitable for urban environments,” said Elliott. “This leaves a huge gap in the market where businesses, residential blocks and other organisations could be benefiting from clean energy.”
VAWTs are normally less economical than HAWTs (horizontal axis wind turbines). There is the possibility that this could change, but if so, we’ve got a long way to go. Still, VAWTs can tap wind on smaller scales and be useful to individual homeowners or businesses without the resources or space to install a HAWT or more.
This turbine arrives in “flat pack” storable parts and does not have to be installed using a mast.
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