Saturday, July 11, 2009

Harnessing the Wind

Did you know that, years ago, there were two windmills in Rogers Park? We've yet to find photos or drawings, but you can be certain they did not look like this.

One of our very own Rogers Park residents, George D. Sullivan, is intent on introducing this type of wind turbine in the US in order to 'harness the wind'. By the way, this wind turbine may also be situated atop street lighting, and notice the solar panel attached.

Shinko 'Gentle Breeze' photo courtesy: George D. Sullivan


Rooftop power

Local man wants to put small wind turbines on many city buildings

July 8, 2009
BY SANDRA GUY

As wind energy gains momentum as an alternative energy source, a Chicagoan wants to see small wind turbines atop hundreds of city buildings.

A company founded by South Shore native George D. Sullivan on Tuesday won the exclusive North American rights to sell small wind turbines under the brand name Gentle Breeze.

Sullivan's company, Synergy Viridis LLC, is partnering with Tokyo-based Sinfonia Technology Co. Ltd., which makes the turbines, to sell and manufacture the 5-foot-tall, 5-to-6-foot-wide turbines, which cost about $50,000 apiece. The vertical-axis turbines, which come in two models, are primarily geared for use on condo or office building rooftops where they are clear of obstacles and high enough to catch sufficient wind gusts.

Synergy Viridus expects to sell 300 turbines the first year, 500 the second year and 1,000 the third year, and to create 1,000 jobs.

The turbines now operate in Japan, India and China.

"I've been working for two years to bring this technology to the United States," said Sullivan, who also owns his own "green" building consultancy, Eco Smart Building.

He gut-rehabbed his own 10,000-square-foot four-flat in Rogers Park six years ago with passive solar systems, reducing his gas and electric bill to $3,400 a year from $23,000, he said.

Sullivan earned a degree in biology and general engineering from the University of Illinois, and his master's in engineering physics from Illinois Institute of Technology.

The city of Chicago boasts a dozen wind turbines -- none yet Gentle Breeze models -- installed at residential and commercial buildings.

Property owners must obtain a building permit to install a turbine. Residential wind turbines require no zoning variance, while commercial turbines do, said Bill McCaffrey, Chicago Department of Buildings spokesman.

Renewable energy provides a small fraction of electricity used today, but the wind and solar sectors are the fastest-growing in the U.S. In 2008, the U.S. became the world's leading provider of wind power.

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Think about the energy costs for your business today, then think what they could be in the future. As breezy as it gets here in most of Rogers Park, it would be simply common sense to invest in this alternative energy source.