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Wind dam designed to deploy fabric sail

Case Studies, Features | May 1, 2008 | By:

A fabric sail-fan combination aims to take advantage of a unique geological setting for sustainable purposes.

When it comes to the latest thinking in new ways to provide renewable power, it all comes down to the fabric specified —in this case, a large wind dam designed to deploy a 75m fabric sail. Mould-breaking UK architect Laurie Chetwood of Chetwood Associates has made headlines across Europe with his revolutionary new fabric-based eco design. Russia has placed an order of £2.5 million (3.5million euros) for a revolutionary new wind dam, which is to be installed over a very windy gorge at Lake Lagoda in the Pitkyaranta District, a region lying to the Northwest of the country.

The high winds that come roaring down the Lake Lagoda gorge can achieve speeds of up to 10m/s. The naturally occurring winds will be captured by the enormous 75m wide and 25m high spinnaker-shaped sail, held in place by firm land anchors. The sail will be strategically tethered between two land masses located to harness the constantly prevailing wind. The energy packed air caught by the spinnaker will be funnelled down by the ergonomic sail-shape to where three 15–20kW turbines with 10m diameter blades stand, placed behind each other to capture as much of the deflected wind energy as possible in order to generate electricity. According to the developers, this revolutionary new fabric wind dam is a much more efficient way of capturing wind energy than establishing a wind farm using traditional propellers alone, an approach which can let a large amount of wind energy escape harvesting.

Chetwood is working with engineers WSP Finland on the development of the Wind Dam, which will also be capable of harnessing relatively minimal wind volumes at low speeds to generate power. Predicted output from the new system is in the region of 100–120MW/yr. F.E.M., simulation, wind tunnel testing and vibration analysis is also being carried out for a number of similar locations in Russia.

Helen Elias is a Fabric Architecture contributing editor. Her report on the memorial to the Madrid train station bombing appeared in the March/April issue.

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