New research by UNISON suggests that for the government’s 2050 net zero target to be met, every public sector organisation, from hospitals and schools to water, transport and environmental services, must be doing their part. As pressure mounts on the public sector, it is clear that the next step is to investigate net zero buildings.
This of course brings up questions of how best to approach this. The answer is simple – wind power. The utilisation of wind to power public sector buildings has long been ignored, but this does not need to be the case any longer. It is now easier than ever to adopt wind power on public buildings thanks to small scale wind technology.
Wind power being used on local government buildings has often been overlooked due to the challenge of high wind shear and turbulent environments. With many of these buildings located in built-up, busier areas, turbulence levels are high, meaning veering and swirling winds can cause fatigue damage on the turbines. In addition, problems with reliability, noise and vibrations have lowered the take up of this technology, particularly in schools and hospitals where it is crucial for these turbines to be quieter.
This doesn’t need to be the case, with the introduction of small wind addressing these challenges. Indeed, advancements in technology allow innovative small wind turbines to operate at low rotational speeds, minimising noise and keeping vibrations exceptionally low. This unique way of working extends operational uptime, while also minimising the maintenance required. As an added benefit, slow rotating small wind turbines are bird and bat-friendly, addressing historical planning concerns, even in more ecologically sensitive sites. Due to their size, they are also easily installed and accessed.
Further to this, small wind can be deployed as a standalone addition or combined with complimentary solar arrays, enhancing renewable energy generation in both new buildings and retrofit projects.
Impact on the Public Sector
Now the science behind these turbines has been explained, it is essential to understand how public sector entities can take advantage. These turbines can be used to power many public buildings including leisure centres and libraries, as well as part of the national road and railway infrastructure, whether that is in built-up areas or rural towns and villages. With the ability to mount the turbine onto a variety of existing structures, the options are truly endless.
Small wind has never been so accessible and implementing it makes a significant difference to the net zero aims of public sector authorities. These turbines provide a solution where noise and vibrations are hugely reduced, but also performance and reliability are drastically increased. There is no better way to start the journey towards carbon neutrality.
While there is not currently a silver bullet to achieve net zero, harnessing small wind technology is a great way to make incremental gains. There is a real potential for small wind to be utilised more widely and be as well-recognised as solar.