Last fall, France’s iconic Eiffel Tower completed its “most ambitious” makeover in 30 years, except for one piece of the puzzle: a pair of new micro wind turbines installed right within the tower itself. Now, the two turbines are in place and humming along, generating enough renewable electricity to power all of the commercial areas in a spectacular renovation that sees 7,000,000 visitors yearly.
The Eiffel Tower is part of an official World Heritage Site and it has provided an inspiration for builders to reach for the skies ever since its debut at the 1899 World’s Fair, so you might think that a pair of wind turbines parked in the structure would be a disruptive choice. However, it looks like SETE (Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel), the Paris authority responsible for managing the Eiffel Tower, had its own idea about that.
A Green Makeover For The Eiffel Tower
The much-buzzed-about Eiffel Tower first floor makeover did not pivot on clean energy as a matter of regulation, but the designers developed a sustainability angle in accord with the City of Paris Climate Plan.
Aside from the wind turbine, the green elements include new window glazing that reduces heat gain by more than 25% for more-efficient warm-weather cooling, and new heat pumps for cool-weather warming.
LED lighting is installed throughout, and a new solar array provides about half of the hot water needed by the two public pavilions.
To round out the green goodies, a rainwater harvesting system shunts flushing water to the restrooms. The same system helps to reduce the energy required for the booster pumps, which send water to higher elevations.
The whole thing can be powered by the equivalent output of the two aforementioned micro wind turbines, so let’s take a closer look at those.
Micro Wind Turbines For The Eiffel Tower
The wind turbines are the VisionAIR5 model micro wind turbines made by the folks over at UGE (aka Urban Green Energy). Together they are capable of churning out 10,000 kWh annually.
They literally are parked inside the Eiffel Tower at about 400 feet above ground level, the optimum location for harvesting steady winds without running into insurmountable installation challenges.
If the name UGE rings a bell, we covered their wind-powered EV charging station in Spain and their micro wind turbine installation for a green makeover at the home of the Philadelphia Eagles back in 2010, and they’ve done quite a bit since then.
In recent developments, UGE has been acquiring third-party certification for its wind turbine technology, and it is one of four micro wind companies tapped for a total of $1.3 million in Energy Department funds geared to accelerating the distributed wind energy market in the US.
As for the appropriateness of plonking a couple of wind turbines into a World Heritage Site, context is everything. UGE custom-painted the installation to blend in with the structure of the Eiffel Tower, and while in the image above you can still clearly see the curved blades within the angular latticework, to our eye they don’t stick out like a sore thumb.
For that matter, the Eiffel Tower is still in service as a broadcast tower, so pulling double duty as a wind energy generator is in keeping with its history as technology workhorse as well as a tourist destination.
You can catch a video of the Eiffel Tower wind turbines in action on the UGE website, so take a look and let us know what you think.
Meanwhile, we’re thinking that some of those 7,000,000 visitors will come away from their Eiffel Tower tour with a new appreciation for micro wind turbines.
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Photo Credit (cropped): Courtesy of UGE.
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