Terms like ‘carbon footprint,’ ‘global warming,’ and ‘renewable energy’ are rarely out of the headlines in this enlightened century. The idea that an industry can be both productive and environmentally friendly is a favourite daydream of engineers and businessmen, but few companies have the money or the desire to install a few solar panels on the cafeteria roof.
However, Bristol Airport has made an effort to catch up with the country’s eco-warriors, by installing a new wind turbine on the front lawn. The turbine, standing 20m tall, has a unique helical, or ‘twisted,’ design, which produces less noise and fewer vibrations than conventional windmills, such as those at Thanet, off the coast of Kent. The structure, says Bristol Airport, is part of an ongoing pilot project.
The Southwest Regional Development Agency contributed £39,000 to the purchase of the turbine, while specialist manufacturer, Aeolus Power, was responsible for designing and installing the contraption, dubbed the Quiet Revolution qr5. Christine Griffiths, a partner of Aeolus, said that the qr5 was “ideal for Bristol Airport,” as the turbine was designed to function in built-up areas.
Bosses at the southwest airport hope to generate enough electricity to make 203,000 cups of tea (0.03kw per cup) during the turbine’s first year, a remarkable number of beverages for a lone windmill. Whether the hub has actually spent thousands of pounds on powering a giant kettle is debatable.
Alan Davies, planning officer at Bristol, referred to the turbine as a “high profile statement of our ambition to reduce our reliance on carbon.” The structure is ostensibly part of plans to expand and upgrade the airport to support 12.5m passengers by 2030, more than double Bristol Airport’s total traffic in 2010.