Published on Games Monitor (http://www.gamesmonitor.org.uk)

Power-hungry Olympic wind park a triumph of spin over substance

By Charles Batsworth
Created 5 Jun 2010 - 23:39

by Paul Charman

A scheme for a £300,000 array of pimped-up wind turbines, claimed to add 'architectural interest' to the Olympic Park, will require more power to run than it generates according to the results of an independent trial. And that's without the fancy lighting.

Each wind turbine appears to consume around 250 watts at average wind speeds in the area, sufficient to power a couple of computers, and with a carbon footprint of around 150g/hour of CO2.

The floodlit array of seven 7-metre high vertical turbines, to be mounted on top of 25m lighting poles, are to be be decorated with arrays of coloured LEDs to grab the attention of visitors.

In an admission of their practical uselessness the Olympic Delivery Authority have admitted their function is mainly decorative. A spokesman said of the design by LDA Design - Hargreaves Associates “The turbines ... will be a prominent symbol to spectators of the sustainability principles behind the games.” This is an oxymoron if ever there was one, as there are few enterprises inherently less sustainable than the modern Olympics. Even Shaun McCarthy, Chair of pseudo-watchdog Commission for a Sustainable London 2012, has said "Having an Olympics is an inherently unsustainable thing to do".

Details of the proposal were documented in an Environmental Impact Assessment 'Screening Opinion Request' submitted to the Olympic Delivery Authority's Planning Decisions Team. This is a preliminary planning application submitted by the ODA to itself to determine whether a full Impact Assessment is required under the EIA Regulations

Pimp that turbine!

Illustrations show the suggested model to be Quiet Revolution QR5, one of the models tested - and rejected as impractical - at the Elephant and Castle redevelopment scheme in South London.

As reported previously in the press, the EIA Screening report by consultants Atkins warns that the turbines are unlikely to turn at night (so at least won't create any noise nuisance). But the existence of an independent study demonstrating them to be completely useless as a power source in the conditions prevailing in the Olympic Park has been ignored.

Wind surveys commissioned by the ODA show the average wind speed in the Olympic Park area to be 4.8 meters per second, but the turbine manufacturers advise their installation only in areas with more than 5m/s. The Elephant and Castle study showed that the QR5 test installation was a net consumer of power with wind speeds less than 6.5m/s.

Green curve shows net power generated - below 6.5m/s, watch the carbon (and our money) burn...


Building Design - 'Olympic Park Turbines Branded As Greenwash' [1]
Elephant & Castle Wind Turbine Trial (9Mb pdf) [1]
ODA Screening Opinion application for wind turbine array [2]

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