Friday, July 14, 2006

A new Beacon for London's energy needs

A group of London designers, architects and engineers have today unveiled The Beacon, a visionary new form of urban energy generation.

Their intention is to site The Beacon at some of the capital’s most prominent locations, and have unveiled images today of a potential installation right at the heart of the City, near Tower Bridge - one of London’s great design icons of old – and right in front of London’s centre of political power, City Hall.

Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone has recently set a target for 20% of London’s energy to come from renewable sources by 2010, and it is now Greater London Authority policy that large new projects incorporate 10% renewable energy generation as part of the building itself.

Designed in response to this challenge, The Beacon is a new form of urban wind generation.

“Wind energy is one of the best forms of renewables around. But most wind turbines are being planned in remote locations without any existing infrastructure. This isn’t efficient as 30% to 50% of energy gets lost through transmission. We believe cities like London should take much greater responsibility for their own energy generation. London has a unique opportunity to make a difference in time for the Olympics” said David Marks and Julia Barfield, architects of the London Eye and co-designers of the Beacon.

Their partner in the project, Robert Webb, CEO of low-carbon engineers XCO2 and co-designer of The Beacon adds; “Within fifty years we will be living in a world which is 90% powered by renewable energy, with no sacrifice to quality of life. The Beacon is a showcase and a celebration of this revolution and is designed to bring the debate on wind generation directly into the cities. ”

The Beacon is a 40 metre high Y-shaped structure, and is designed to be ‘planted’ along major roads and public spaces, reaching up to the stronger breezes above London’s buildings, while the top of it rotates into the wind direction. Each Beacon supports five vertical ‘triple-helix’ wind turbines called quietrevolution, each five metres high and three metres diameter – itself the first new product from Quiet Revolution Ltd, a sister company of XCO2 - designed to achieve ultra-quiet operation and more efficient utilisation of urban winds.

In an additional twist, the quietrevolution wind turbines can become suspended video screens or colour-change lighting displays, thanks to LEDs integrated within the blades. Its designers hope that it will be used a few times in the year for celebrating important events – like the Queen’s birthday, the Wimbledon final – or hopefully, one day, England winning the football World Cup.

More about Quietrevolution wind turbines


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