Urban wind turbine could transform city landscape

Posted on 05 July 2012
Not only will the turbine support our aim to continue reducing our environmental impact as a university, but will also provide a tool for students to engage with and learn more about the future of renewable energy.”

A prototype for a brand new design of wind turbine that will generate electricity in urban areas, potentially revolutionising the renewables industry, has been installed for the first time in the UK at Keele University.

The new vertical-axis turbine has been installed at Keele University Science and Business Park by a pioneering renewables company, McCamley UK Ltd. The scalable design could one day incorporate office or residential space as part of the turbine design, transforming the future of the city landscape.

The turbine has been designed to overcome many of the issues associated with large horizontal – axis turbines seen in wind farms.  These turbines rely on a steady wind speed, whereas McCamley’s vertical-axis model is able to cope with the turbulent and variable nature of the gusting wind conditions often found in urban environments. In these situations, when the wind speed drops below 2-3metres per second the turbine continues to operate, a point at which traditional models stop and when the wind picks up draw power from the Grid to restart.  The McCamley turbine does not require this power to restart, it is a self starting wind turbine.

The McCamley turbine can be easily assembled from ‘flat-pack’ storable parts and retrofitted onto a roof without a supporting mast, making it a viable source of renewable energy in cities and towns - areas previously seen as unsuitable for wind energy.

A self-regulating system also means the turbine continues to work efficiently in high gusting wind speeds, keeping at a consistent, steady speed. The absence of down-force from sweeping blades also significantly decreases noise and significantly reduces ground vibrations. In addition, the design of the turbine is less likely to impact on wildlife.

The turbine also has the potential to be effective on farms and related rural areas.

During the next six months, McCamley will realise plans for a 12kW model. Meanwhile, academics and students at Keele University are monitoring the progress of the first prototype and working towards microgeneration certification. If accepted, businesses that choose to install the model will be able to benefit from the Government Feed-in-Tariff scheme.

Dr Scott Elliott, CEO of McCamley UK Ltd, comments: “We’re pleased to be bringing our prototype to the UK for the first time. Wind energy has huge potential in the UK, but the traditional wind farm models are just not effective and are certainly not suitable for urban environments. This leaves a huge gap in the market where businesses, residential blocks and other organisations could be benefiting from clean energy. We believe that this design has the potential to be the new face of wind energy and is completely scalable, from 12kW designs to larger megawatt designs.

“Our location at Keele University Business and Science Park has led to a real partnership where we’ve been able to utilise academic interest in the area to turn our expertise into commercial reality. We are really looking forward to working towards our microgeneration certification over the coming months and realising the potential of the prototype.”

Jonathon Porritt, Chancellor at Keele University, said: “It’s really interesting to see McCamley’s vision for a new design of wind turbine come to fruition here at Keele. Sustainability is at the heart of everything the University does, so it’s a significant opportunity for the institution to assist a business on the science park in the development of this new technology. Not only will the turbine support our aim to continue reducing our environmental impact as a university, but will also provide a tool for students to engage with and learn more about the future of renewable energy.”

Professor Pat Bailey, Pro-Vice-Chancellor at Keele University, adds: “Keele is the ideal location for McCamley’s to pilot their new wind turbine design. As well as the benefits of being part of the Science and Business Park, we have a number of academics with years of experience researching wind turbine technology. One of our MSc students is already working alongside the company to help them achieve microgeneration accreditation for the design and we’re looking forward to seeing this project develop over the coming months.”