Cutting edge Hull design firm InterTech has grand designs for micro wind farm
Mail reporter Angus Young finds out about the UK’s first urban micro wind farm, which is being installed at a Hull design company’s HQ
Coming up with concept ideas for potential projects and developments is what commercial design firm InterTech is all about.
In particular, the Hull company's digital design strengths, from 3-D animations to detailed high-resolution graphics, attract clients from across the UK and abroad before being turned into reality.
Now, another of InterTech's concepts is about to get off the ground, but this time it's taking place closer to home on a strip of land immediately next to the firm's design centre in Priory Park.
The building is probably already familiar to thousands of motorists who regularly travel up and down the nearby Clive Sullivan Way in west Hull.
For a start, there's a life-sized model of a leopard prowling on the roof. The other eye-catching feature is the sight of two wind turbines shaped like giant egg whisks, which help generate energy to power to InterTech's building.
Now, construction work is under way to add another six turbines at the site, to create what is being billed as the UK's first urban micro wind farm.
GREEN PROJECT: Mark Harvey and Adam Sharp, of Quiet Revolution, overseeing the installation
of the micro wind farm.
While Hull continues to hold its breath over a final decision by Siemens to build its proposed offshore wind turbine assembly plant at Alexandra Dock, the city is about to move into the forefront of onshore wind technology.
The project also differs from the typical onshore turbine installation seen in places like the remote plains of Holderness. This one is very much designed to work in an urban setting, with the influence on wind movement of buildings and unusual features such as the nearby main railway line in and out of Hull being taken into account.
The success of the initial pair of turbines prompted InterTech owner Andrew Fenton to think bigger. "We first came up with the concept of the micro wind farm last year and it should be up and running by December 12.
"It is an entirely privately funded project, which will see six mini-turbines being installed at the site on Priory Park, next to Clive Sullivan Way, to join two existing vertical axis turbines we have here."
With investment support from bank Handelsbanken, turbine manufacturer Quiet Revolution was recommissioned, having provided the original turbines for InterTech.
Meanwhile, InterTech's digital design team set about coming up with 3-D visualisations to use in the planning process and in meetings with local residents and neighbouring businesses.
Unlike the two whisk-shaped turbines at the site, the new arrivals will feature more traditional-looking blades, albeit on a much smaller scale than conventional onshore turbines.
Mr Fenton said: "The turbines will be able to run at low wind speeds to make the most of available wind resources.
"The new ones being installed will run in wind speeds as low as 3.5m/s and will also run at very high wind strengths, bordering on gale force, which will allow the turbines to generate power more efficiently."
Thanks to their design, the turbines will be able to cope with the sort of high winds that force larger, more conventional onshore turbines to shut down automatically.
Each turbine, which stands on an 18m-high mast, costs about £27,000 and has a lifespan of 25 years. The micro wind farm is expected to generate about 65,200kw of power every year.
"They should have paid for themselves by year 11, leaving the remaining 14 years with the turbines being totally in profit," said Mr Fenton.
The green credentials of the project match the thinking behind InterTech's design centre, which features solar panels, a rainwater harvesting system and a range of low-power LED lighting throughout its three floors.
"When you match the energy production from just one of the turbines being installed on the site and relate it to our design centre, which uses on average between 3kw to 5kw per hour, you can see the potential for wind power," said Mr Fenton. "If you combine wind and solar they can now make a big impact on a business's carbon reduction. We have managed to get the energy consumption of our commercial building, which is 18,000sq ft over three floors, down to about £285 per month on electricity and the highest gas bill for one month that we have incurred within the past two years has been £290.
"These low figures are mostly as a result of the building design, helped in some part by the power we generate from the two existing vertical axis turbines and the solar panels. We actually gain back an average of £8,500 per year, which puts us in credit of between £3,000 to £4,000."
The current project also includes a new development area for evaluating the latest components in energy-saving equipment on the remaining land.
The site clearance and installation of the new turbines is being carried out by Dunswell-based firm Landplan.
"It's the first time it has undertaken a project like this and it is good to be able to give this work locally, especially when local companies have the skills to get involved," said Mr Fenton.
"The final phase of the project would be to build a climate reduction building to complement the visual look of the turbines and help showcase some very advanced energy-saving technologies that we are working on over the next few years.
"I would also like to thank Hull City Council's planning department for their help on what was not an easy project to get off the ground, Henry Boot Developments for their proactive support, and our bank Handelsbanken for the investment in making what was a renewables pipe dream a reality."
This article originally appeared in Hull and East Riding Business, the Hull Daily Mail's quarterly business magazine