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Old April 20th, 2006, 07:01 AM   #1
hkskyline
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A Rooftop Windmill Of Your Very Own

A Rooftop Windmill Of Your Very Own
By Benjamin Sutherland
24 April 2006
Newsweek International

As projects to build "wind farms" of massive, electricity-generating wind turbines continue to multiply, so do the ranks of "not in my backyard" protesters. The turbines, some with blades that sweep as high as a 20-story building, are increasingly seen as unsightly and dangerous manifestations of the industrialization of the countryside. "The volume is going up higher on opposition to wind farms," says Kathy Belyeu, spokeswoman for the Washington, D.C.-based American Wind Energy Association. Although protests have generally failed to nix many farms, they frequently translate into costly delays or relocation to sites with less favorable winds.

Wind advocates thus have high hopes for less obtrusive wind technology: specifically, high-performance, nonpolluting rooftop microturbines. Generally not much bigger than a dish antenna, they hardly mar the skyline. And if wind conditions are optimal, they can satisfy a typical household's appetite for electricity. Although a microturbine produces less than one thousandth the power of a 20-story turbine, the electricity need only be piped a short distance into the house rather than sent over long distances. The microturbine can also contribute to the energy grid via a short power line that connects to utility lines running along the street. Various models of the turbines, which generally range in price from $1,000 to $8,000, have started springing up on top of houses and buildings in Europe and North America.

Demand has risen so quickly--roughly doubling in the past 12 months--that companies are having trouble making the minimills fast enough. Renewable Devices, an Edinburgh-based manufacturer, which is growing at 300 percent a year, priced a popular turbine at Ģ5,000 while it ramps up production (it plans to drop the price by two thirds by December). Many other manufacturers are lowering prices as the growing market provides economies of scale and local authorities expedite use permits. (The turbines aren't much louder than the wind, and birds are no more likely to fly into them than into windows.)

Earlier this year, the Dutch city of Hoofddorp erected a turbine on its town hall "to set an example," says Environment Policymaker Ruud Mesman. The move kicked off a campaign to install enough turbines to cover 10 percent of the city's electricity needs within 20 years (the city now advises builders on the benefits of "small wind" before issuing construction permits). In May, Chicago will begin a turbine test on the Daley Center skyscraper to figure out how to issue permits and whether to promote the technology with tax incentives.

Most rooftop turbines are designed to pay for themselves after about five years of moderately favorable winds--conditions common in temperate climates like those of Europe, the United States and Japan. After that, the juice is free, save maintenance costs, until the motors burn out after an additional 15 or so years. Rising electricity costs are sweetening the deal, as is the proliferation of "net metering" laws that require utility companies to purchase the unused small-wind electricity fed onto the grid. Five years ago half a dozen EU countries obliged energy companies to buy this so-called spill; now 24 countries do. Thirty-nine U.S. states have passed net-metering legislation. Of course, microturbines also make a satisfying display of one's green credentials and self-reliance. In a world of energy turmoil and global warming, personal windmills are becoming fashionable.
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Old April 20th, 2006, 07:09 AM   #2
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thatīd be an eyesore though..
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Old April 20th, 2006, 07:22 AM   #3
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I would love to have one on my house.
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Old February 28th, 2007, 08:47 AM   #4
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American architect to build wind-powered skyscraper in Paris business district
28 November 2006

PARIS (AP) - Developers have selected a design by an award-winning American architect for a bold new building nearly as tall as the Eiffel Tower -- and powered partly by the wind.

Dubbed the Lighthouse, the 984-foot-high skyscraper will be designed by Pritzker Prize winner Thom Mayne and erected at La Defense, a complex of office towers in a business district west of Paris where many of France's major corporations are headquartered.

The Unibail development company announced Monday that Mayne, who works for Santa Monica, Calif.-based firm Morphosis, had bested nine other architects to win the bid. His design shows a building curving asymmetrically upward, topped by a crown of spiky antennae.

It's being billed as a "green" building since the wind turbines on the roof will power the building's heating and cooling system for a part of the year. A retractable outer layer will reduce the heat from sunlight through the windows in summer.

The building, set for completion in 2012, will be shorter than the 1,062-foot Eiffel Tower, but significantly taller than Paris' highest office building, the 688-foot Montparnasse Tower.

French media reports said the project will cost more than $1 billion.
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