Archive for March, 2015

The Eiffel Tower has new wind turbines, and they’re beautiful

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

0227-ResearchRoundup-Eiffel_tcm20-2190722The Eiffel Tower’s iron-clad frame turned slightly greener last week, with the installation of two new wind turbines along its lower deck. Perched some 400 feet above the ground, atop a ritzy, second-level restaurant, the slender turbines are part of a broader effort to make Paris’ most iconic monument more eco-friendly — even if only slightly. When they go into operation next week, the 17-foot structures will provide enough electricity to power the tower’s first-floor commercial areas — about 10,000kWh per year. Jan Gromadzki, an engineer who oversaw the project for New York-based Urban Green Technology (UGE), says that’s enough to power an average American family’s home for one year. But for the Eiffel Tower — which consumes an estimated 6.7 GWh a year — “it’s just a small drop in the ocean.” “A VISUAL STATEMENT” “This installation is definitely more symbolic,” Gromadzki says. “But it is still significant because the merchant spaces on the first floor do consume energy, and being able to offset that consumption is something people can really assimilate and understand.” The curved, tri-blade turbines were designed and installed by UGE, which has planted its crescent-shaped turbines and other renewable systems at sites across the globe. But the Eiffel Tower posed unique challenges. Each blade had to be hoisted by hand and pulley up to the second floor, and secured within the building’s tight lattice structure along its southwest corner. The entire installation had to unfold at night, as well, since the Eiffel Tower is open to the public until 11PM seven days a week. The Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel, the organization that manages the Eiffel Tower, wanted “something that would make a visual statement,” Gromadzki says, without distracting from its distinct silhouette. So the blades were painted in a brown-grey hue to match the building, and extra vibration dampeners were added to make sure the turbines wouldn’t disturb diners at the upscale Jules Verne restaurant below. When running at full speed, the turbines only produce about 40 decibels of sound — about the equivalent of a whisper.