The power of 'small wind'

Online Editor

With pressure mounting on businesses to reach ambitious net zero targets, Martin Barnes discusses how ‘small wind’ can help these targets be realised

According to Veolia, just 29% of UK businesses have published a strategy for reaching carbon net zero. The pressure continues to build on the remaining 71% to finalise their strategies. One of the major challenges is getting people to understand the different practical approaches they can take to best reduce organisational carbon footprints. In fact, two in five UK businesses feel overwhelmed by the steps they need to take to reach carbon neutrality. This is stark.

To me the answer is obvious. Harnessing ‘small wind’ will make the difference. Utilising ‘small wind’ has been long ignored by businesses across most industries, but it is easier than ever to adopt this technology.

The technology

Up until now, ‘small wind’ has not played an integral part in the race to net zero. The issues around performance, reliability and planning concerns associated with noise, vibrations and ecology, have held back the wider adoption of ‘small wind’ technology. On top of this, in built up areas, turbulence levels are high and veering winds can cause fatigue damage to turbines, making wind energy generation a less favourable option.

The Crossflow wind turbine specifically addresses these issues, opening up a wealth of applications in built environments, telecoms, the public sector, transport and utility infrastructure, commercial property and retail, as well as the accessibility of operating effectively in remote, ecologically sensitive locations. Simply, if there is an existing structure in place, the turbine can be deployed. There has never been a better time for business leaders to realise the undoubted potential that small wind holds.

The turbine has been deliberately manufactured to be slow rotating, with an energy capture shield to maximise flow through the turbine, allowing performance to be optimised over many wind speeds, and eliminating many of the challenges facing ‘conventional’ high-speed wind turbines.

The scalable, transverse axis wind turbine is easy to install, efficient and reliable. The hybrid lift and drag design combined with the asymmetrical S-shaped wind shield enables the turbine to be more efficient than existing slow rotating vertical axis wind turbines (VAWTs). The turbine is self-starting, even at low wind speeds, which is ensured by the advanced lightweight blades and optimised aerodynamics which harvest the maximum wind energy.

With regards to energy output, it is comparable to high-speed vertical and horizontal axis wind turbines (HAWTs), with little sensitivity to turbulence and wind shear providing a greater consistency of output across a wider operating range of wind speeds.

The sleek turbine design is able to address many of the operational, environmental and ecological concerns associated with conventional turbine technologies. The low rotational speed reduces the visual impact while low vibration characteristics and extremely quiet operations make it suited to the built environment.

Further to this, the turbine is easily detected by radar because of its slow rotational speed and 'solid' profile. These characteristics in turn make it safe for wildlife. This, in addition to the turbine's quiet operation, provides improved assurance of overcoming more traditional planning constraints and gives ‘small wind’ increased potential to be installed at both urban and off-grid sites.

The turbine can also be deployed as a standalone entity or combined with solar panels and battery storage, which further enhances the renewable generation.

The flexibility of ‘small wind’

Technology and science aside, the question arises of how easily these turbines can be integrated into everyday society. Firstly, the possibilities of where the turbines can be embedded are endless, from hospital and university developments to rail and road infrastructure. If there is an existing structure already in place, the turbine can be effectively implemented.

Due to the advancements in technology, the performance, reliability and planning concerns surrounding wind power have been addressed, and solved, which is why ‘small wind’ is the perfect option for those who want to play their part in the race to net zero and make incremental gains towards eliminating carbon emissions.

The UK’s journey to net zero could be transformed by ‘small wind’ if people can re-educate themselves on the potential of wind power and appreciate the difference between ‘conventional’ turbines and ‘small wind’ turbines. With proper investment, small wind has the potential to be as large a part of the change as solar is at the moment. There is no reason why it can’t be as mainstream in the road to net-zero in the UK and further afield. This really is the next step in the journey towards carbon neutrality.

Martin Barnes is CEO of Crossflow Energy

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