Most urban wind turbines don’t do much but putter in the breeze. This idea puts them in a place where they can turn
Wind turbines often don’t work well on top of buildings. With all the other structures in the way in urban areas, the wind speeds aren’t fast enough, and the blades fail to turn. You sometimes get the feeling the developer put the thing there not to generate power, but to make some kind of environmental statement.
The WindRail is different because it was designed specifically for buildings and takes advantage of its air flows. Developed in Zurich, it’s a combination wind turbine and solar system that sits between a building’s facade and the roof edge. It could be a way of generating power on buildings that aren’t suitable for conventional solar panels or turbines, which is plenty of them.
“When wind flows around the building, it creates a pressure difference between the facade and the rooftop. The facade has a higher wind pressure,” explains Sven Koehler, CEO of Anerdgy, the company behind the Windrail. “Because we are channeling the wind and making a connection between the high and low pressure areas, the speeds are faster and we have more energy.” Koehler says the pressure effect accounts for 50% of the power the WindRail generates.
The device comes in two meter modules and can generate 1,500 to 2,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) a year. A whole rooftop could therefore generate enough power for all a building’s needs in some cases. The average U.S. home uses 10,837 kWh a year.