The Next Step for Urban Wind Power: Water Tower Turbines

Majid Rashidi

Cleveland State University professor Majid Rashidi intends to prove that small-scale wind power can be cost-effective on city roofs with a turbine design using the same principle that lets airplanes fly. Rashidi’s turbine, in development since last year, attaches to water storage tanks commonly found on the roofs of New York City apartment buildings. Since the tanks are designed to hold thousands of pounds of water, they can handle any stress exerted by turbines.

Rashidi claims that his design effectively captures wind power in crowded areas by accelerating wind flow through four rotating turbines, allowing them to work where wind speeds would normally be too low. It’s similar to why airplanes can fly–when air passes over the top of the wing, it speeds up and exerts less pressure than the air under the wing, creating lift.

The test turbines, which each measure six feet in diameter, are placed on either side of a 25 foot cylinder and anchored to a rotating platform. The turbines are already mass-produced for about $10,000 a pop–only the rotating platform needs to be specially built. Rashidi estimates that four turbines can produce 8 kilowatts of power per hour. That’s not much compared the 2,000 kilowatts produced by larger turbines that sit on traditional masts, but it could add up if the turbines are placed on apartment roofs throughout the city. And Rashidi claims that the price per unit of electricity could be comparable to larger towers.


Despite being custom-built for New York City’s needs, the turbines’ first trial run will be in Ohio. The Cleveland Indians is planning to install the turbines at its home stadium in the next month or two.

[Via Reuters]

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