Building Height and Wind Energy
I am working on a theoretical policy
involving wind energy, and ran into a few
'unanswerable' questions. What do is considered a
'high altitude wind'? What height does, say, a
skyscraper, need to be to tap into the high
velocity winds? I know skyscrapers are build
especially to resist wind pressure, but how strong
is that pressure? Could you power a building with
High altitude winds are generally another way to refer to the Jet
Stream. These winds are usually at altitudes of 20,000 feet or more.
Clearly, no building is anywhere near that height.
The force of wind pressure on a skyscraper depends on wind velocity,
the shape of the skyscraper and its height and width. The wind pressure
on the building itself cannot be used to generate power, because there
is no "work" done; there is a force but no movement. I suppose that
one could put a wind turbine on top of a normal skyscraper, but there
is no guarantee of reliable winds which are needed to generate reliable
The initial calculations you have to make are:
1. What is the typical wind speed on a tall building?
2. How much does the wind tower weigh, and does it require warning lights
for passing airplanes?
3. How much electrical power does the proposed wind field generate?
4. What is the change in average wind speed over the period of a day, week,
month? In some locations the wind speed is erratic.
All of these, and other factors, determine the feasibility. Feasibility can
be verified on paper, without having to build a working size model.
This resource answers your questions.
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Update: June 2012