First Large Building-Integrated Wind Turbines Spin in Bahrain

April 16, 2008

Ground-level photo of two triangular buildings connected by three bridges, with spinning wind turbines mounted to the bridges.

This multiple-exposure photo shows the three-bladed wind turbines spinning on the newly built Bahrain World Trade Center.

Three 225-kilowatt wind turbines mounted on the newly built Bahrain World Trade Center spun in unison for the first time on April 8. The achievement was a milestone for the world's first integration of utility-scale wind turbines into a building. The turbines are mounted on heavy bridges that span the gap between two sail-shaped buildings, which are meant to help funnel the wind into the turbines. Each blade is about 95 feet in diameter, and once fully operational, the wind turbines are expected to operate roughly half of the time, generating 11%-15% of the building's energy needs. Atkins designed the building and Norwin, a Danish company, supplied the wind turbines. During the coming months, the turbines will undergo detailed analysis and optimization by Norwin to determine their actual generating potential. See the Atkins press release and Web page on the project, as well as the Norwin and Bahrain World Trade Center Web sites.

Most building-integrated wind turbines have been smaller wind turbines mounted on the roofs of buildings. One current example is at the Boston Logan International Airport, which will soon feature 20 wind turbines mounted on the roof of the Logan Office Center. The Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) is working with AeroVironment and Groom Energy Solutions to install the wind turbines. Each wind turbine is six feet in diameter and can generate 1 kilowatt of power, for a total of 20 kilowatts for the entire project. The wind turbines are expected to supply about 2% of the building's energy needs. See the Massport press release and AeroVironment Web site.

A European study published in 2005 examined the potential for such building-integrated wind turbines in the United Kingdom. The study recommended further research on the wind regime in urban areas and around isolated buildings; the structural and noise implications of mounting wind turbines onto a building; and the optimal design for building-integrated wind turbines. The report also reviewed the experience with building-integrated wind turbines. At the time of that report, the largest such project involved the installation of three 16.4-foot wind turbines on the roof of a building. In contrast, the wind turbines in the Bahrain World Trade Center are much larger and are fully integrated into the design of the building. See the 118-page U.K. report (PDF 4 MB). Download Adobe Reader.