New York City’s Biggest Industrial Wind Turbine Is Up and Running

©. Margaret Badore

This morning, temperatures were in the mid-20’s Fahrenheit in Brooklyn, and from the piers a chilly breeze could be felt blowing in from the Hudson River. Although the weather wasn’t ideal for spectators, it did keep the blades of the city’s largest wind turbine turning at a rate of about 48 revolutions per minute.

Today, Sims Municipal Recycling held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at its Sunset Park sorting facility for the industrial-scale turbine. The facility is responsible for sorting and processing most of the city’s curbside recycling. The wind turbine is the first of its kind for the city, although there are a number of smaller residential wind turbines throughout the New York. Including the blades, the turbine stands at 160 feet tall.

wind turbine

© Courtesy of Sims Municipal RecyclingThe turbine has a capacity of 100kW, and alone can meet about 4 percent of the sorting facility’s energy needs. In combination with the site’s large array of roof-top solar panels, up to 20 percent of the recycling center’s required energy can be generated by on-site renewable sources.

Brooklyn Recycling

© Margaret Badore. Inside the Sims Municipal Recycling Material Recovery Facility.

Tom Outerbridge, General Manager of Sims Municipal Recycling, said that sustainability is central to the company’s mission.

In addition to its renewable energy intentions, the recycling facility is engaged in sustainability in a number of ways. They host daily school tours of the sorting floor and recycling education center. They’ve also made an effort to improve the habitat surrounding the pier, such as building artificial reefs and installing special nets on the back side of barge moorings to cultivate water-cleaning muscles.

Students from Brooklyn's P.S. 197 tour the recycling center.

© Margaret Badore. Students from P.S. 197 tour the recycling center.

The turbine cost about $750,000 and is projected to pay for itself in energy savings in about five years. A major hurdle to installing the turbine was obtaining the proper permits, a process that took over four years. But with this first turbine up and running, others are likely to follow. Nils Behn, CEO of the Aegis Renewable Energy, said that hopefully permitting time can be reduced considerably. Aegis was responsible for installing the wind turbine, which was manufactured by Northern Power Systems Corp. Behn also said more wind-turbine projects are in the works in the area, but couldn’t discuss further details.

So, while the bitter winds may make New Yorkers want to never leave our apartments, in the future those gusts could help to power more of our city.