Talk of wind turbines and we tend to think of huge structures out in the country, conjuring up visions of a romantic idyll with a few delicately spinning blades on the horizon. The truth of the matter, however, is that of late these contemporary icons are as likely to be seen on the outskirts of Europe’s towns and cities as in a field miles from the nearest McDonald’s or Starbucks. It may be unlikely that planning permission will be granted for actual city centre constructions but nevertheless the march towards the rise of the urban wind turbine is well under way …
Let’s start our survey with the northern English city of Leeds. In 2009 planners granted permission for a 125m tall wind turbine on the outskirts of the Yorkshire city. The structure is to be erected at the Knostrop sewage treatment works in Cross Green and will stand 125m from tower base to blade tip, boasting a three-bladed rotor, 90m in diameter.
Reports suggest the structure will generate up to 2.5mw of electricity and help power the plant, one of the largest in the region, treating 456,500 cubic metres of sewage daily. And the Leeds example is far from a solitary one. Councillors in the city of Hull, for instance, are currently considering up to five possible locations, none very far from the city centre, for potential large wind turbine developments.
Nevertheless England may have a way to go to catch up with its near neighbour across the North Sea, Germany. There, Nordex recently installed two multi-megawatt wind turbines in the city of Hamburg. Located at the Dradenau Sewage Treatment Plant, the wind power systems N100/2500 will produce clean energy for the metropolitan area. With a total height of just under 190 metres, the turbines are among the largest operating in the city and up to 20 per cent more efficient than conventional models in this output class. The systems would generate approximately 13m kw hours of electricity annually, Nordex spokesman Felix Losada said.