DENVER — A new “Urban Wind Map” renewable energy tool was announced at the April 18th Mayor’s Earth Day Breakfast in San Francisco. The Web-based tool enables residents and businesses to get a first look at the wind energy potential existing in their yards or rooftops. The Urban Wind Map was developed for the San Francisco Department of Environment by CH2M HILL.
The Urban Wind Map can be accessed at http://sf.solarmap.org and clicking on the “Wind” tab in the upper right hand corner of the home page.
In its 2009 recommendations report, the San Francisco Urban Wind Taskforce noted the need for better data on the San Francisco wind resource. Prior to development of this tool, available wind resource maps were geared toward taller, utility-scale turbines, and did not provide data at a high enough resolution to capture San Francisco’s unique topography. Through its website, the Urban Wind Map allows users to see what the wind resource is across the entire city, at heights appropriate for urban installations, and enter their address to see the resource at their own property. It also provides case studies of existing installations, and wind data from weather stations around San Francisco.
CH2M HILL used advanced computational fluid dynamics software to analyze wind flows through San Francisco’s downtown core and residential neighborhoods, based on meteorological data and existing three-dimensional geometric data on San Francisco’s built environment encompassing more than half a million structures. The model simulates eight wind conditions and determines wind patterns resulting from terrain and buildings. Buildings in the downtown core create more complex wind effects, requiring more detailed analysis than low-rise buildings in outlying neighborhoods.
The Urban Wind Map complements the San Francisco Solar Map, also created by CH2M HILL, which accurately evaluates the solar energy production potential of each roof on every building in the city. The Solar Map enables citizens to simply enter a residence or business address and receive immediate data about site-specific solar energy potential, installation costs, and incentives. Both tools support the city of San Francisco’s goal of meeting 100 percent of San Francisco’s electricity demand with renewable energy within 10 years.
"Building on the success of the San Francisco solar map, the new Urban Wind Map is another innovative tool that will help us make measurable progress toward achieving San Francisco’s ambitious renewable energy goals," said Melanie Nutter, director of Department of the Environment. “Since its debut five years ago, the Solar Map has enabled a four-fold increase in solar installations in the city.” There are now over 1,900 solar photovoltaic systems in San Francisco producing roughly 25,000 megawatt-hours of renewable energy annually, creating $4 million in estimated annual energy savings, and reducing more than 7,000 tons of CO2 emissions each year.
“As new urban wind technologies are developed, the San Francisco Wind Map will help us understand what areas are best-suited for wind generation and help San Francisco residents understand the variables that go into siting a small wind turbine,” said Danielle Murray, Renewable Energy program manager at the San Francisco Department of Environment.
“San Francisco is really pushing the envelope by getting residents involved and aware of their renewable energy options at their homes,” said CH2M HILL project manager Steph Stoppenhagen. “San Francisco is a great location to demonstrate the potential of urban wind applications.”