Small-Wind Turbines Making a Big Difference


Allison Donnelly for Zondits, January 23, 2015

Though solar is typically seen to be the distributed generation technology of choice, small wind is also gaining popularity in the US. “Small-wind” (meaning a rating of 100 kW or less) turbines have been used in farms and other rural applications for decades but are increasingly being used in commercial and industrial applications. The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) reports that there were more than 150,000 small-wind turbines in the US in 2012. Some are smaller versions of the traditional utility-scale models: towers with horizontally mounted turbines and three to four vertical blades, which are sometimes used on commercial and industrial campuses. Others are vertical axis wind turbines, which can be incorporated into building design and are popular in cities (for example, this parking garage in Chicago). Small-wind turbines are also locally sourced; AWEA notes that 70% of the US market for small wind is filled by US manufacturers.

One such wind turbine was installed on the 30th Street Pier in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park in the fall of 2014 and dedicated in a ceremony on January 13, 2015. The 160-foot structure is expected to provide about 4% of the power to run the Sunset Park Materials Recovery Facility, a recycling center for metals operated by Sims Metal Management, which holds a long-term contract with the New York Department of Sanitation.


A Wind Turbine Grows In Brooklyn

Renewables Biz, January 16, 2015

A 100 kW wind turbine manufactured by Northern Power Systems was officially dedicated during a ceremony at the Sunset Park Material Recovery Facility (MRF), located on the Brooklyn, N.Y. , waterfront.

Sims Metal Management , which owns the recycling center, says the wind turbine is expected to generate up to 4% of the energy required to run the facility. The capital cost was approximately $750,000 , and the turbine will pay for itself in about 5 years, depending on wind and electricity costs.

The 120-foot tower was installed last fall, and permitting for the project began in 2011. The pier’s naturally windy location is an ideal spot for the turbine, which overlooks the MRF and its Recycling Education Center .

No stranger to renewable energy, Sims Metal Management already uses rooftop solar. Together, wind and solar energy will make up to 20% of the electricity needed to power the operation, the company notes.

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Would be interesting to see what the net returns on these small-scale wind-turbines are. From what I have seen in the past they take decades(!) to generate the energy equivalent that is required just to manufacture and install them. Moreover, what is the financial return on installing these. It’s a huge waste of money to subsidize them if the returns are poor compared to energy-efficiency investments (just like residential solar in 95% of the US). Solar water heating and passive solar heating can be great investments.

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