‘Small-scale wind’ and its potential to transform the net zero agenda 

Martin Barnes, CEO at Crossflow Energy, the renewable energy technology specialist, shares his thoughts with Renewable Energy Installer magazine on ‘small-scale wind’, its various applications and its potential to drive sustainability goals across a range of sectors.   

The UK has a legally binding net zero by 2050 target and a commitment to ‘build back better’ after COVID-19 and the COP26 conference. Throw in a growing number of local authorities setting their own ambitious emissions goals, and it’s easy to see why pressure is mounting for businesses across all industries to deliver a greener built environment.   

The question is: what kind of practical approaches can best reduce organisational carbon footprints? An important answer lies in the remit of wind power. It has so many applications that can be incorporated across a plethora of sectors. Now is the time for decision-makers responsible for driving net zero to pay attention to the untapped potential held by wind power.  

Limitations of wind turbines in the built environment 

While the adoption of solar technologies is widespread, the potential of small wind turbines has previously been overlooked. One of the big barriers to wind power being used in built environments in the past has been the challenge of high wind shear and turbulent environments. In built-up areas, high turbulence levels and veering or swirling winds can cause fatigue damage to turbines. Other factors putting off uptake have been reliability, noise and vibrations.  

Rise of ‘small-scale wind’ 

The good news is that incorporating small wind in the built environment is now a viable option, with our revolutionary wind turbine addressing all of these historic challenges.     

The scalable transverse axis wind turbine is easy to install, efficient and reliable. The hybrid lift and drag design combined with the unique asymmetrical S-shaped wind shield enables the turbine to be more efficient than existing slow rotating Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (VAWT). The advanced lightweight blades and optimised aerodynamics harvest maximum wind energy and ensure the turbine is self-starting even at low wind speeds.  

In fact, it is comparable, in terms of energy output, to high-speed Vertical and Horizontal Axis Wind Turbines (HAWT), with greater consistency of output across a wider operating range of wind speeds and little sensitivity to turbulence and wind shear. 

The turbine design also addresses many of the operational, environmental and ecological concerns associated with conventional turbine technologies. Low rotational speeds, reduced visual impact, extremely quiet operations with low vibration characteristics and environmentally friendly to avian and chiropteran wildlife, all provide improved assurance of overcoming more traditional planning constraints. ‘Small scale wind’ has more potential to be installed at both urban and sensitive sites.  

Plus, the turbine can be deployed as a standalone entity or combined with complimentary solar generation, to deliver enhanced renewable generation to be exported through a grid-tie system or battery storage. 

Applications of ‘small-scale wind’ 

It is all well and good spotlighting the technology and the science behind it, but how can the world take advantage? Well, small wind turbines can now be embedded into both new build and existing structures: commercial developments, public buildings, as part of road and rail infrastructure and in challenging environments such as remote, ecologically sensitive locations.  

The applications of small wind turbines also include on farms and rooftops, and in industrial settings, car parks and public centres. The possibilities are endless. Indeed, if there is an existing structure already in place, the turbine can be effectively implemented.   

Today’s technology makes small wind accessible and implementable for any industry with a built environment. It addresses issues around performance, reliability and planning concerns associated with noise, vibrations and ecology. It offers the perfect solution for those that uptake it to get ahead of the net zero agenda.  

A final word 

Small-scale wind has the power to transform how we continue our journey to net zero. With its numerous applications, there is no reason why small wind cannot become mainstream and as commonplace in built environments as solar.     

To find out more about Crossflow and its technology, visit https://crossflowenergy.co.uk/