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Name: Leah
Status: student
Grade: 9-12
Location: CA
Country: USA
Date: N/A 

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 it?

Hi Leah,

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 electric power.

Bob Wilson

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.

Vince Calder

This resource answers your questions.

Burr Zimmerman

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