The O2 Arena will soon use a new breed of “vertical wind turbine” to generate its own clean electricity, after signing a deal with a startup firm that says its turbines will generate power even when the wind is not blowing.
The London landmark once known as the Millennium Dome will begin by installing 10 of the 68cm (27in) vertical turbines. The breezy conditions at the site on the River Thames will help generate enough clean electricity to power 23 homes.
Although this is a small amount of the O2’s total energy consumption, the arena’s owner, AEG, expects to install more of the mini turbines across its stadiums worldwide.
The new breed of turbine is said to be able to spin from even a gentle movement of air, or a passing car. Each unit is made from recycled plastic and weighs about 4kg (9lbs), but the design could be scaled up to help generate as much electricity as 20 sq metres of solar panels, according to its developer, Alpha 311.
Lee Lacey, the facility director at the O2, said the arena had “been searching for a suitable wind-generated power source” to help cut its greenhouse gas emissions and reach its ambition to become a net zero carbon entertainment venue.
“The opportunity to provide a local on-site source of power generation is huge and we hope this trial provides the launchpad of many more installations, not only at the O2 and other AEG venues but across the Greenwich peninsula and throughout the UK,” she said.
Alpha 311 turbines were originally designed to be larger, at just nearly 2 metes in length, and installed on infrastructure with a connection to the electricity grid, such as streetlights, to help to reduce costs.
Installing the turbines on streetlights along motorways, for example, could generate eight times as much clean electricity as they are expected to produce at the O2 Arena. Motorways also offer the advantage of minimal installation time and no negative impact on the environment or local views, which can be a concern for traditional windfarms in some areas.
Barry Thompson, the chief executive of Alpha 311, said the company was already in talks with international buyers. He said: “The Alpha 311 turbine was born in Britain with international aspirations, so it’s fitting that we’re working with the world’s most popular music, entertainment and leisure venue.”