Several years ago, we heard a lot about the advent of small wind turbines that could be attached to the tops of buildings, but news of that faded – there seemed to be many problems, such as noise and reverberations.
But now we’ve heard that El Centro College in downtown Dallas installed 80 small turbines on top of an 9-story building – coincidentally, among the first to get electricity 100 years ago.
At 20 kilowatts, the $240,000 system will provide about 10% of the building’s power – enough for all 2000 computers. At about human height, they can rotate 360 degrees to catch the wind that funnels through from nearby skyscrapers. This "artificial wind tunnel" produces winds with average speeds of 20-22 mph, compared to 8 mph generally in Dallas County.
All the turbines are made in the US.
The college turned to wind because nearby buildings produce too much shade for solar. "While the Bank of America building really helps us with wind because the wind comes off there, it hurts us for solar because of the shade," David Browning, vice president of business and administrative services for El Centro, told Dallas Business Journal.
"Take a situation that’s annoying like all that wind and suddenly turn it into something positive," Browning says, "Think about the future and how it could improve the lives of your children and grandchildren."
During the 15-20 years it takes to recover the cost, the college will save an estimated $15,000 to $20,000 a year on electricity costs.