Wind map shows untapped energy potential in cities

Apr 24, 2013 by Harriet Jarlett
Wind map shows untapped energy potential in cities

Putting a wind turbine on your suburban home may leave you disappointed but there is a large untapped wind energy potential in UK cities, say scientists. A new study has mapped the wind energy potential of five city regions, including, Manchester, Edinburgh and Nottingham, to show the best places for small to medium scale wind turbines.

The researchers, from the University of Leeds, hope this will lead to an online tool which tells people how much energy a wind turbine near their home or workplace could produce.

'Our model shows that the best sites for turbines are in the centre where there's lots of tall buildings less subject to the city's frictional effects. The peripheral regions around the outskirts of a city are also good places,' says PhD student Joel Millward-Hopkins, lead author of the study. 'The lowest capacity seems to be in the suburbs where building heights tend to be lower and more similar to each other.'

The research, published in Renewable Energy, shows that promoting cheap and easy to install small and micro wind turbines on suburban houses may not be the most productive use of wind energy resources. 'People assume the they put on their homes will work, but actually these sites are quite poor,' explains Millward-Hopkins.

'Estimating the available in cities is complicated because of the - there are lots of buildings of different heights, and these significantly disrupt the wind flow. Whilst the surface friction may be greater the closer you get to a city centre, there are also more tall buildings which extend above the surface and can access higher winds' explains Professor Alison Tomlin who co-authored the study.

'In the past people have spent money on turbines, and found that on suburban roofs they were not generating as much energy as they expected. We therefore saw the need for more accurate assessment tools predicting wind potential across cities,' she continues.

Wind map shows untapped energy potential in cities
Map of a central area of the City of Leeds, indicating the predicted wind speeds 5 m above each building roof.

The model uses digitised data describing building heights and vegetation, to create a 3D map of wind speeds across the city for eight different directions. To build it, the team utilised LiDAR data of building heights, models of how wind behaves near the ground, and MET office data.

The next stage for the team is to develop a low-cost where people type in their postcode and are shown how suitable an area is for a turbine. The team are also working with colleagues to include the information on whether a building is suitable for solar panels.

Instead of promoting small turbines for personal use, the researchers believe we should make better use of the wind potential of tall buildings in city centres and the semi-rural regions at the edges of cities.

'Where you have a 70 metre high building in a city centre the model shows you get very strong wind speeds. You essentially have a 70 metre mast built for you,' explains Millward-Hopkins.

But these buildings are not currently being used as turbines sites. 'You can count on your fingers how many turbines have been installed on tall buildings within Leeds,' says Tomlin. 'It's an untapped resource.'

The researchers think a turbine should be included as standard in plans for tall buildings.

Explore further: A platform to help consumers achieve sustainable energy consumption

More information: Millward-Hopkins, J. et al. (2013) Mapping the wind resource over UK cities, Renewable Energy, Volume 55, Pages 202-211. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.renene.2012.12.039

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Benni
2.1 / 5 (8) Apr 24, 2013
Small wind turbines have never been cost effective & never will be. By the time a homeowner has paid for "all" the costs associated with installation, permits, & long range servicing costs in the United States, the homeowner will be lucky to break even over the next 10 years. This aside from the aggravation turbines create with your neighbors who do not want to picnic outside on their redwood decks & listen to the "wump-wump" sounds of turbine blades.

With the increased use of natural gas to operate co-generation power plants, the cost of electricity production in the U.S. has dropped by more than 25% in the past two years. There of course is variability in these numbers, but the point being that the overall cost effectiveness of wind & solar technologies since shale fracturing technology implementation has been to sharply reduce wind & solar as an energy source. Coal is being phased out because it is less capital intensive per BTU to frack gas & oil in the continental U.s.
antialias_physorg
2.6 / 5 (5) Apr 24, 2013
This aside from the aggravation turbines create with your neighbors who do not want to picnic outside

I'm not sure how often you picnic outside in the city.
listen to the "wump-wump"

Ever been close to a small to midsize wind turbine? Notice how it doesn't make that 'wump wump' sound? (Hint: it's got to do with the speed at which they turn)

the homeowner will be lucky to break even over the next 10 years

A 10 year time to recoup your initial investment is pretty standard for solar thermal or PV. And people have no compunction about putting them up. Why should this then suddenly b off-putting with respect to wind generators?

With the increased use of natural gas to operate co-generation power plants, the cost of electricity production in the U.S. has dropped by more than 25%

Problem is: we're pushing all the (ecological) costs down the road to be paid by our children and grandchildren. That's nor fair (or sustainable). Not at all.
Benni
1 / 5 (5) Apr 24, 2013
listen to the "wump-wump"


Ever been close to a small to midsize wind turbine? Notice how it doesn't make that 'wump wump' sound? (Hint: it's got to do with the speed at which they turn)


Because you are not an engineer I wouldn't expect you to get it right that the source of the "wump-wump" sound comes from the "speed" at which the turbine blades are rotating, so your "hint" is dead-on wrong, the sound comes from the the downward stroke which is the stroke that creates air turbulence along the edges of the blades. I won't get into the aerodynamics of with you because your science background is so weak that you in the mathematically challenged political class wouldn't understand it anyway.

....and by the way, the continental United States is not part of your dismal chaos called Europe, we have better ideas here about how to make efficient use of energy resources, in short our Engineers are better at planning than your politicians.
djr
3.3 / 5 (3) Apr 24, 2013
"With the increased use of natural gas to operate co-generation power plants, the cost of electricity production in the U.S. has dropped by more than 25% in the past two years."

Funny - my electricity bill has been going up! You may also want to look at this article http://oilprice.c...ble.html They tag the break even price of Natural Gas at around $6 - considerably higher than the current U.S. market cost - causing "bloodletting" in the industry. It is pretty clear that gas prices will not be able to stay this low - as the cost of renewables continues to slide. I know which horse I am betting on.
QuixoteJ
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 24, 2013
[the article]The researchers think a turbine should be included as standard in plans for tall buildings.
That's just stupid. I like wind turbines for what they are, but they don't belong at the top of every tall building. How would the Zeppelins dock???

It would stand to follow that the researchers also think there should be a wind turbine on top of the Eiffel Tower.
antialias_physorg
3.2 / 5 (5) Apr 24, 2013
I won't get into the aerodynamics of with you because your science background

Bzzt. I am an engineer. The wind force effected by each downstroke disspiates with the square of the distance. Smalle blade, less force per blade going down - i.e. sound carries less far.

Just go and stand next to such medium/small scale rotors yourself. Experience trumps (in your case wrong) theoretical thought every time.

of your dismal chaos called Europe

I've lived this side and the other side of the Atlantic. I'll take the 'dismal chaos' over here any time over the US, thank you very much. Have you ever set foot outside the US for a prolonged period? Thought not.

in short our Engineers are better at planning than your politicians.

Then how come all the best engineering in alternative power and the most efficient gas turbines come from Europe? Weird, ain't it.
cantdrive85
3.4 / 5 (5) Apr 24, 2013
This wind map gives an excellent visualization of the surface currents in the US.

http://hint.fm/wind/
betterexists
1 / 5 (5) Apr 24, 2013
The following should help tremendously!
http://www6.slac....ery.aspx

Inundated with Progress Reports constantly.....but nothing visible, though
Why are implementations so slow? Private Enterprises are Cash-Starved and Extremely motivated by Profit Potential.
......Still CDs are sold after about a couple of decades
There must be some Via Media approach.
betterexists
1 / 5 (5) Apr 24, 2013
I mean CDs should be available only online cleaning up the store shelves for some others. May be some stores can cling on to them........but not each & every one.
betterexists
1 / 5 (4) Apr 24, 2013
May be investors that are loaded should install & pocket the savings until the poor home owner pays up for the wind turbine....If it becomes clear that no money is going to be paid ........it can always be moved to another house yard after getting even.
kochevnik
3.7 / 5 (6) Apr 24, 2013
Corporate energy posting whores seem to be out in full force today. Pity there's no useful energy in those gasbags
Benni
1 / 5 (6) Apr 24, 2013
Bzzt. I am an engineer.


AP, you are afflicted with a condition called "memory lapse" that does not afflict me. I specifically recall you inserting into one of your posts about 6-8 months ago on this site that your degrees are in the discipline of "economics" and that you have a Phd in that discipline, or something similar to Economics. In short, you are "political class".

I'll believe your first claim & discount the one above because the one above is not the discipline reflected by the word choices in so many of your postings. Let's see, how far back can these postings be scrutinized ?

kochevnik
3 / 5 (2) Apr 24, 2013
Bzzt. I am an engineer.
AP, you are afflicted with a condition called "memory lapse" that does not afflict me.
False memories yet you're still functional. Good job Benni
barakn
5 / 5 (1) Apr 24, 2013
Bzzt. I am an engineer.


AP, you are afflicted with a condition called "memory lapse" that does not afflict me. I specifically recall you inserting into one of your posts about 6-8 months ago on this site that your degrees are in the discipline of "economics" and that you have a Phd in that discipline, or something similar to Economics. In short, you are "political class".

Well played. Denigrate your opponent with an unsubstantiated and difficult-to-verify accusation and then skip away like Little Red Riding Hood through the daisies.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Apr 25, 2013
I specifically recall you inserting into one of your posts about 6-8 months ago on this site that your degrees are in the discipline of "economics"

You must have me (very) confused with somone else.
I have an electrical enginering degree (Dipl. Ing.), and a PhD in human biology (as I've stated numerous times on this site)...and if you dig far enough back you may even find posts where I linked to my thesis (which has all the biographical information in it, though you may have to translate it from german to read it).

I think you should start worrying about your mental capacities.
betterexists
1 / 5 (3) Apr 25, 2013
"But were it not for the federal funding of basic science research, there would be no betatrophin. Potential diabetes breakthrough | Harvard Gazette"

http://news.harva...through/
ScooterG
1 / 5 (2) Apr 27, 2013
Why not install small, self-reporting turbines to existing power poles and feed the grid directly? We have the poles, easements, installation/service personnel/equipment already in place.
Neinsense99
1 / 5 (4) Apr 28, 2013
"AP, you are afflicted with a condition called "memory lapse" that does not afflict me. I specifically recall you inserting into one of your posts about 6-8 months ago on this site that your degrees are in the discipline of "economics" and that you have a Phd in that discipline, or something similar to Economics. In short, you are "political class".

No memory lapse, but you state "about 6-8 months ago", and "or something similar to Economics", etc.? The lack of specifics is very suggestive that there is no such thing, or is something that differs greatly from what you want us to think it is.
Osiris1
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 28, 2013
wind turbines would be verrrry effective out side the white house and capitol buildings in washington dc.

all kidding aside, wind turbines would be quite effective and progressively saving over time. utility rates always raise triple any cost rise to them, but NEVER go down on cost decreases. that is an axiom of business. governments that contract out their responsibilities come under the purview of businesses too as they abdicate their public trusts the moment they lay off public employees to contract out public service sector jobs. with progressive depreciation of all fiat currencies worldwide, rates have further upward pressure. also with interest rates that will resume their old high rates as soon as 'inflation' is perceived. that cost you pay for that turbine is rel. fixed. global warming will improve its performance. as cities cut trees down, etc, performance goes up too. once installed, it CAN be improved since permits already had, etc. 4 dimensional view good 2 hav
_traw_at
5 / 5 (2) Apr 29, 2013
"Small wind turbines have never been cost effective & never will be. "

Given that my local utility would charge me $1,000+ for each power pole installed every 100 feet to connect a rural parcel of land to the grid, the above statement is a gross oversimplification.
Furthermore, numerous building owner/ operators in places like Chicago which t have installed the smaller roof-top turbines to create their own power. Since real estate holding companies and business have accountants who workout costs, one assumes this is a cost-effective move.

One thing is certain: the price of the installed machine and associated hardware/software is a fixed price. After that, the wind is free.
That can't be said for sources of non-renewable power.

Fracking has a built-in environmental and financial liabilities that could cause long-term problems, especially now that we are becoming aware of the risk of long-term radioactive contamination caused by the drilling wastes.