By Jacob Dubé
Ryerson’s Centre for Urban Energy (CUE) is testing a new way to power cities with micro wind turbines.
Through the CUE and with funding by Hydro One, professors and students have been testing micro wind turbines for potential use in urban environments.
Micro wind turbines are smaller versions of wind turbines, which are machines that turn wind into usable energy.
“These are very small scale. Usually, they are around 1 Kilowatt or multiple Kilowatts each, in terms of capacity. So the ones we are working on are 700 watts,” said Alan Fung, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at Ryerson.
The turbines, which they received from Taiwan, are currently being tested at the Kortright Centre for Conservation, a park in Woodbridge, Ont. For over a year, Fung and his team have been studying how much power the turbines could generate within that time and if it could work within an environment like Toronto.
Fung said that the micro wind turbines could be used in city apartments, as there are untapped wind resources for energy in higher buildings.
“When you are in an urban environment, you have different buildings and obstructions. And sometimes, some of these buildings do create higher than normal wind velocity in a different location,” he said.
Fung, along with professor Kaamran Raahemifar, are working with students and graduates on the project, such as Rakesh Kumar, Danilo Yu, Aidan Brookston and Sahishnu Shan. Yu is researching how the micro wind turbines and solar energy devices can work complimentary to each other to help charge electric cars. Fung says that the implementation of electric cars on a city’s grid can have a big impact, especially during peak hours, and that the alternative energy sources could relieve that.
The goal is to research the possibility of creating a micro grid — made up of the wind turbines and solar energy technology — where residents could use renewable energy to power their homes instead of putting a strain on the city’s own power grid.
“We would like to combine the wind turbine with a [solar-powered system] with a house battery,” Fung said. “We’re trying to make the houses independent or [with an] off-grid electrical system, so that the house will be self-sufficient for the day, or the entire year.”