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Published: 16/07/2015

Eiffel tower takes renewable energy to new heights

As part of a multi-million pound renovation of the Eiffel Tower the Parisian icon has received some new additions, but can you see them? 400 feet above the ground, two vertical axis wind turbines have been installed, but they’re painted the same colour as the iron tower.

Urban Green Energy (UGE), a renewable energy company based in the USA, has installed two UGE VisionAIR5 turbines that will be able to generate enough electricity to power all of the commercial areas on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower. The virtually silent turbines have been strategically placed to take advantage of relatively steady winds.

The vertical design means lower outputs than conventional wind turbines, but they’re designed for urban areas where winds are less predictable and can come from multiple directions. The two turbines on the Eiffel Tower are capable of delivering 10,000 kWh of electricity each year.

Installing the turbines at such a height inside the tower was not an easy feat. Each part had to be hoisted individually and suspended with rope above the tower’s second level. The wind turbines are just one measure being taken by the Societe d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel, the commercial company that operates the tower, as part of a major green retrofit project. They are also installing energy LED lights, a 10m squared solar thermal panel to provide about half the hot water needs of the tower, rainwater is being collected to flush the toilets and heat pumps have been installed to provide heating.

Nick Blitterswyk, chief executive of UGE, said:

“The Eiffel Tower is arguably the most renowned architectural icon in the world, and we are proud that our advanced technology was chosen as the Tower commits to a more sustainable future.

“When visitors from around the world see the wind turbines, we get one step closer to a world powered by clean and reliable renewable energy.”

A similar vertical axis wind turbine was used in Folkestone, just around the corner from the Reina Group head office, to build a wind powered lift for the 2014 Folkestone Triennial. The turbine generated electricity that was used to power a vertical lift almost the height of the Foord Road railway viaduct, cited as the tallest arched brick viaduct in the world.