Denmark

Denmark

Too much wind proving a problem -- Paradox in Bahrain

The most prestigious and largest wind-powered building project yet attempted is progressing well with all three Norwin 225 kW turbines suspended in place between the twin towers of Bahrain's futuristic new World Trade Centre. But commissioning of the turbines is proving problematic, says Ole Sangill of Norwin, a Danish company. So far, the local electricity utility remains unconvinced that feeding wind power into its grid that is excess to the trade centre's demand can be done without destabilising customer supplies.

At Norwin's request, experts from Danish utility Elsam have intervened to explain to the Bahrain utility that what can be achieved without problem in the rest of the world with wind power can also be achieved in Bahrain, but to no avail. Sangill, however, remains hopeful of a solution.

The problem has arisen because the winds blowing through the gap between the twin towers have proved to be both strong and stable. According to the grand plan, however, output from the turbines is only to be used for powering the trade centre's computers and lighting, with heavier consumption, such as the building's air conditioning, to be met from the grid.

Construction of the trade centre is delayed, but the most recent schedule is for completion in September. Until a solution is found for using the full output of the turbines they will be commissioned with operational limits on their production, says Sangill.

The primary purpose of integrating wind power into the World Trade Centre is symbolic rather than practical. With Bahrain's era as an oil producing state coming to an end, the country wanted to send a signal about the new times ahead (Windpower Monthly, October 2005). Although the project is not being allowed to produce much electricity, it is generating a large amount of interest in Norwin's products, says Sangill. The company has a similar project in a start-up phase in Dubai and has been dealing with inquiries from companies in the rest of the Middle East, China and Europe.

The next project looks like being the installation of three Norwin 20 kW turbines in England on a new 147 metre skyscraper being built in the Elephant & Castle region of London, south of the River Thames. The 43 storey Castle House received consent last year. The nine metre diameter wind turbines will sit in cowlings -- or wind concentrating funnels -- to maximize wind velocity. They will produce enough electricity to light the entire building, claims the developer, Multiplex Developments, part of the Australian Multiplex Group. As a result, energy costs will be up to 40% less than the average for typical UK housing, according to Multiplex. Work has begun on demolition of existing buildings on the site to make way for the £120 million tower.

Norwin evolved from Danwin, a manufacturer of utility scale wind turbines in the 1990s. It specialises in wind turbines of less than 1 MW rated capacity for community-scale use. They are made in Denmark and on licence in India.

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