Wind farm in SF?

Ben Shore's picture

What about setting up some wind farming on top of the hills surrounding SF? We always talk about solar, but aren't there more windy days in The City than bright and sunny?

NKlein82's picture

That's a great idea but can it work?

We could possibly put wind farms along Ocean Beach or the Golden Gate.  According to this link, a single wind turbine can produce 5,600 megawatt hours.  My only concern about wind turbines in a city environment or along the Golden Gate Bridge might be dangerous because a utility-scale wind turbine can be as large as 90 meters in diameter.  The great thing about solar panels is that they can be put on roofs and thus be relatively unobtrusive.  Unfortunately, wind turbines are not unobtrusive.

Phil Ting's picture

wind energy

When we started talking abour solar, we only had 584 buildings with solar - today we have over 1700 buildings.  There's no reason we shouldn't be able to do the same things with wind technology.  We do need significant government subsidies at all levels - federal, state and local to make it affordable.  Residents and companies aren't going to do it unless its cheaper than their current electricity bill.  The only way cleanteach companies will grow is if they get help from government.  China just kicked in a $1billion to assist the three largest solar companies in China to produce more solar and to make it cheaper for everyone around the world.  We need the same commitment from our government.

mattgould's picture

Windfarms on Roofs?

Hey Noah, your posting made me think. Why can't wind farms be installed on the top of large, tall buildings? They would have great, unobstructed access to the wind without being in harms way. I think a skyline topped with economized windmills would be beautiful :)

NKlein82's picture

That's a good idea!

I think we would have to know about stress tests on the wind turbines, but that sounds good. Maybe it could power the building and some of the neighborhood surrounding it.

Phil Ting's picture

Renewable Energy

45% of Portugal's energy is renewable, mostly from hydro and wind Conversely, SF's energy is only 1%-2% renewable. We always hear it's impossible to have a significant amount of renewable energy but with today's technology it's not true. We should be looking at more wind energy and expanding our solar energy.
gcotter's picture

Solar/wind requirements

First of all, I put solar panels on my roof over 10 years ago.  Several years ago I presented a paper to the BOS recommending that building and planning laws be modified to require installation of solar or wind generation on all new buildings or major remodels.  An alternative would be that the builder could waive the installation by paying a fee/fine in the amount of the cost of such installation.  Money from fees/fines would be available to provide ZIP loans to property owners wanting to install wind or solar.

I also proposed that homes/buildings with solar/wind generation be given a property tax credit that goes with the property including when the property is sold.  Thus, owning and selling a property with renewable energy has a long term payback for both the owner and for the new buyer - much as a remodeled kitchen or bath adds to the value of a home, solar or wind would increase the value..

Finally, I suggested that in as much as we have a mandated 1% requirement for Art for public buildings, we should be able to easily change that requirement from 1% for Art to 1/2% for Art and 1/2% for renewable energy.

And of course, every "Big Box" building - Costco, Lowes, Hotels, Shopping centers, skyscrapers, etc. should be required to have solar/wind generation on their roofs in order to get a building permit. 

mattgould's picture

re: Solar/wind requirements

These are all good ideas gcotter. I especially like the tax credit sticking with a property even after it is sold.

mattgould's picture

London Building w/Wind Turbines

A London building has 3 wind turbines installed at the top of the tower, providing 8% of the buildings power. Though it was voted the ugliest new building in London, this may be a piece of what the future looks like:

ExcelsiorMom's picture

Wind is something to consider

Wind is something to consider as with other renewables, but one thing to also consider are the other externalities involved.  For example, wind farms often have very high incidences of bird strikes.  They also require quite a bit of space per kw/hr.  Looking at these sorts of issues and coming up with solutions would be a great subject for a business incubator.  Why not have some of our smartest and brightest working on these types of issues rather than on the latest iPhone app or website startup?

gcotter's picture

Types of Turbines?

I'm curious what each of us visualizes when we here the words "wind farm."  Most of the time I see that phrase I think of those huge ten story windmills with hundred foot vanes that are out in open farmland.  However, that is not the only type of wind turbine. There are literally dozens of different types of wind turbines many of which are small and could be placed on roof tops or in back yards.

If anyone is interested, here is a web site that has pictures of different styles of turbines and links to other sites to learn more.

I already have solar panels on my roof which provide me with all the energy I need, but I see there are many smaller types of wind turbines that could easily fit into an urban environment.  If I lived in an area where I couldn't take advantage of solar - such as in the shadow of other buildings or something - I would certainly consider putting wind turbines on my roof.

Does anyone know whether a study has been done of different types of wind turbines that fit into San Francisco's weather patterns and suitable for urban areas?

mattgould's picture

Interesting Types of Turbines

I found a lot of sources listing the basic vertical and horizontal types of wind turbines that have been around for decades. This site features some more radical ideas on what the turbine is and can potentially become:

Scroll about half way down the page and check out the Kite Wind Generators. The blurb that is offered is not very helpful, but if you click on the image it will take you to a fascinating animated video showcasing the possibilities such a technology presents. And, below that, some more technical information is displayed.

Wouldn't it be ironic if, over two hundred years after Franklin's kite experiment, we could use that original speculation as a means of actually producing the electricity that Franklin "discovered?"

gcotter's picture

Yours is better

Awesome!  Your link is much better than the one I found!

The kite style is intriguing  but wouldn't they be a hazard for traffic helicopters or search and rescue planes?  I liked some of the smaller ones that could go on urban rooftops - especially the wind cube and the bladeless ones.


Thanks for the link.

Paid for by Phil Ting for Assembly 2012. FPPC ID# 1343137