1. Built environment
January 7, 2016updated 30 Jul 2021 2:00pm

Why we should install wind turbines under bridges

By Barbara Speed

Wind turbines are tall, loud, and pretty expensive to install. So instead of sticking them on tall towers in the middle of fields, what if we could incorporate them into the infrastructure we already have? 

This piece at Fast Company magazine collects together various research and proposals for sticking the whizzy, rotating bit of wind turbines under bridges. If done right, the idea could generate energy, improve public perceptions of wind, and even strengthen older bridges in the process.

There are a few obvious reasons why the concept makes sense. Deep valleys are often wind tunnels in their own right, meaning the turbines will be perfectly placed to generate maximum energy. Installing them under existing bridges, meanwhile, would overcome many of the objections raised against installing turbines in rural areas. 

Here are some mock-ups from Italian architecture firm Coffice, who proposed that turbines could be installed beneath the viaducts criss-crossing the Italian countryside:

Image: Coffice. 

The design also incorporates solar panels on the bridge’s surface:

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Image: Coffice.

In the Canary Islands, scientists from Kingston University have calculated that installing turbines under the  Juncal Viaduct would provide enough energy for 450-500 homes. Sounds like they might be on to something. 

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