Wind powered trade centre -- Bahrain symbolism

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Symbolic value is being prioritised over profit with the suspension of three 225 kW wind turbines between the twin towers of Bahrain's coming World Trade Centre. Construction of the centre and the three Norwin turbines from Denmark is already underway.

Until now, the idea of integrating wind turbine generators into buildings has failed to move beyond the drawing board. And Norwin's Per Lading admits it is the project's symbolism more than its economics that is the main driver. The turbines, each with a rotor diameter of 29 metres, will be installed in March-April next year and will join the two towers.

Wind turbines have been a part of the World Trade Centre design since the beginning, but kept secret until last month, says Lading. Bahrain's era as an oil producing state is beginning to come to an end. For this reason, says Lading, the country wanted the new World Trade Centre to send a signal about new times.

Norwin, together with large Danish engineering group Rambøll, researched the technical potential for truly integrating wind turbines into a building for the first time. Earlier studies, including EU financed research, have failed to progress beyond a design concept because of technical and economic barriers.

The technical barriers are now cleared, says Lading. The turbines will be mounted to make best use of the prevailing winds in Bahrain, but will clearly not be able to produce power when the towers are sheltering them. The basis for the whole project has also been to waive any idea of making the addition of wind turbines hang together economically, but to give priority to the message they would send, he adds.

Norwin is a small Danish company that has specialised in wind turbines with rated capacities of 225 kW to 750 kW after the size range was dropped by the bigger companies in the industry. Norwin turbines are made in Denmark and on licence in India. They are also marketed in the United States since their size makes them suitable for use in the net-metering programs run by a handful of states. Wind turbine owners participating in such programs are allowed to offset their use of electricity from the grid with their own production.

In India, where frequent power cuts are a major problem for the industrial sector, companies are allowed to "bank" their own generation with utilities. In return they are protected from planned power cuts.

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