A plan to power Manchester City’s football stadium entirely by wind energy has been put on hold – and there are fears it may have to be scrapped altogether.
It’s because experts say there’s a risk of ice forming on the 360 feet high turbine blades and falling on to people or cars underneath.
European health and safety legislation says that there must be an exclusion zone around the turbine because of the potential threat to people and property.
But City bosses say this would mean declaring a huge chunk of match day car parking and the stadium’s existing TV and radio broadcast compound out of bounds.
As a result City may have to find a new place for the wind turbine.
But a source says the club is prepared to scrap the plan for the site unless the issue is resolved by the start of June.
Manchester City Football Club spokesman Pete Bradshaw said the European directive demanding an exclusion zone only came to light in November 2007.
He said that that when the scheme was being planned in 2006, there was no indication that any risk of ice forming on the turbine blades was an issue.
Mr Bradshaw said “There’s no proof anywhere that ice does fall off them – it’s never happened, but there is this legislation that suggests it happens, and therefore we have to take that into the risk assessment.
“We don’t want ice falling off onto people, or vehicles or anything else.
“Clearly, if the temperature fell below minus four on a match day we couldn’t have a major exclusion zone right outside the stadium so that is a major issue for us.
“The bottom line really is that if that is not resolvable then we may well have to come to the conclusion that a wind turbine is not feasible on this site any longer.”
When the green energy scheme was unveiled in August 2005, an area in front of the stadium’s administrative entrance was regarded as the best place for the wind turbine.
The project was given planning permission in September 2006 and it was supposed to be up and running by October 2007.
If the wind turbine plan goes ahead, it will be built, owned and run by national experts Ecotricity.
Ecotricity managing director Dale Vince said: “The project is still going ahead, we have been undertaking extensive studies into the possibilities of icing of the turbine blades and the mitigation measures that are available.
“We’re number crunching on the probabilities, using long term data from the met office. The studies are simply precautionary.”
The wind turbine was designed by celebrated architect, Sir Norman Foster and if built will be one of the tallest in western Europe, with the blade tip reaching 120 metres – as tall as the CIS Insurance tower in Corporation Street.
If the wind turbine is eventually built, Ecotricity predict it will supply 22 per cent more power than the football stadium needs, and this surplus would then be sold.
The original scheme includes a viewing platform and a `green energy’ classroom.
At the time, Manchester City Council spokesman Councillor Neil Swannick said it would make the sports facility one of the most environmentally friendly in the world.
17 March 2008
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding