Saturday, August 23, 2008

Mayor Bloomberg...or Mayor Quixote?

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is a good guy. He's done tons for the city of New York, such as reducing congestion, increasing public health accountability and working to turn NYC into more of a 'green' city. And now his latest NYC renovation is to start building windmills on top of Skyscrapers.
"More than 100 years ago, a new statue standing tall in New York Harbor gave our nation its greatest symbol of freedom," he told the audience in Las Vegas. "In this century, that freedom is being undermined by dependence on foreign oil. So I think it would be a thing of beauty if, when Lady Liberty looks out on the horizon, she not only welcomes new immigrants, but lights their way with a torch powered by an ocean wind farm."

Mr. Bloomberg, thought by some to be a potential presidential candidate, is pinning much of his political legacy on green initiatives. He tried, but failed, this spring to introduce a congestion fee on Manhattan drivers in a bid to reduce traffic and encourage more reliance on public transportation.

Undeterred by that setback, he recently introduced a $2.3-billion (U.S.) plan to cut emissions from city agencies by 30 per cent within the next 10 years - an effort he hopes will "embarrass" the federal government, and force it to make energy conservation a priority.

Now he has solicited responses from companies on how the city can derive more power from wind turbines, tidal currents, solar panels and geothermal energy.

Josh Magee, research director at Emerging Energy Research in Cambridge, Mass., said some of these proposals, like the offshore farms, are more viable than others, because of the city's coastal positioning and the prevailing wind currents. Although this power can be expensive, it would provide the city with a natural hedge against volatile price swings in the natural-gas market, on which New York relies heavily for its power needs.

The notion of affixing windmills on the top of skyscrapers, however, appears to be far-fetched, given the turbulence and wind shear they would face at this altitude.

"Quite simply put," said, Mr. Magee "the current wind turbine technology is not designed for installation at those heights."

He's a good guy. He's a good mayor. But this is a weird idea. Windmills on top of skyscrapers? I don't know if I'd be down with that.