CRAZY WEDNESDAY: IT’S DAM WINDY!

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Okay, what do you do when you want a good head of water to drive a turbine for hydro-electric power? You build a dam, of course.

Now, what about when you need a good, strong wind to drive your wind turbines? A wind dam! You’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s not all that intuitive to apply the same principles to wind as to water, after all, as they say, “you might as well try and catch the wind”.

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A British company is going to try and do just that, though. Architects Chetwood Associates have applied for planning permission to build a £2.5 million wind dam across a gorge on the famously windy Lake Ladoga in Karelia, North West Russia. The futuristic vision would be the first wind dam in the world. It comprises a cup-shaped spinnaker sail, which is similar to the main sail of a yacht, and widely accepted as being one of the most efficient ways of channelling wind. By funnelling the existing air flow through the gorge into the spinnaker, they hope to maximise the available drive across the attached turbine, and generate renewable energy.

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If the application is successful, Chetwood Associates would hope to build it in situ next year. They are already considering a further application for another dam higher up the lake. The first dam, which will be 25 metres across and 75 metres high, was conceived by project architect, Laurie Chetwood, as a shape that combined functionality with aesthetics. He views his design as being somewhat sculptural, and likens its appearance to “a bird dipping its beak into the water”. “But it is also highly effective at capturing the wind”, he says, “because it replicates the work of a dam and doesn’t let the wind escape in the way it does using traditional propellers.”

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Chetwood Associates has a very good pedigree in developing designs that deviate from the commonplace. This is the architecture firm responsible for the London Oasis, a beautiful and interactive sculpture in Clerkenwell, London.

I love the design of the wind dam. I think it echoes the beauty the lake and its scenery, and echoes the small sails of the boats and windsurfers frequently found enjoying the unusual breeze in this valley.

Amanda

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