The Eiffel Tower is one of the most popular sights in the world, and now it stands taller than ever. The historic structure is partially powering itself thanks to two new wind turbines that were just installed.
Located above the second level, the turbines will produce over 10,000 kWh of electricity per year, offsetting the annual consumption of commercial activity on the Eiffel Tower’s first floor, which thanks to a larger refurbishment project now includes two panoramic pavilions with meeting and conference spaces, plus a new glass floor.
One of the major goals of the refurbishment project was to achieve a significant reduction in its ecological footprint as part of the City of Paris Climate Plan.
In addition to the wind turbines, other green enhancements include roof mounted solar panels–whose output will meet approximately 50 percent of the water heating needs of both new pavilions–plus a rainwater recovery system that provides flushing water to the toilet facilities, and also reduces the amount of energy needed to power the booster pumps used to pump water to the higher levels of the vertiginous tower.
To top off the green changes, in another energy saving move, almost all of the lighting on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower has been converted to LED.
The Eiffel Tower’s green upgrades come at a good time, with the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC due to take place in Paris this December.
Speaking about those upgrades, Eiffel Tower spokesman Jean François Martins shares, “The Eiffel Tower and its teams are constantly developing features, hospitality facilities and services offered to visitors, in ways that respect the principles of sustainable development and ensure high levels of safety.”
U.S.-based Urban Green Energy (UGE), the self-proclaimed global leader in distributed renewable energy, was the lucky company chosen to install the Eiffel Tower’s two VisionAIR5 vertical axis wind turbines, in partnership with the Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel (SETE), the Paris authority responsible for managing the Tower.
How does UGE CEO Nick Blitterswyk feel to have such a high (no pun intended) profile client? “The Eiffel Tower is arguably the most renowned architectural icon in the world, and we are proud that our advanced technology was chosen as the Tower commits to a more sustainable future,” he says.
Installing giant wind turbines into an iconic structure located 400 feet above ground level was no easy task for UGE. Mounting the turbines required each component to be hoisted individually and suspended with rope above the tower’s second level.
Noise from the turbines is not a concern because apparently the new additions are super quiet as far as wind turbines go, and in case you’re worried that the turbines will visually conflict with the Eiffel Tower’s original design, the turbines are “specially painted to match the iconic tower,” as UGE put it. Amazingly, the Eiffel Tower remained open to the public throughout the entire refurbishment project, including all of its sustainable development upgrades.
Given the precarious state of the environment, if he was alive today, who knows what Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the original Eiffel Tower, would think of the new wind turbines.
Hopefully he would see them as a step in the right direction–a symbol for the world to admire–that conveys the reality of humanity’s situation, which is that without a planet, nothing else will matter.
As for UGE, their dream is to power the world with renewable energy. Perhaps next they can try for the Golden Gate Bridge. It gets awfully windy up there.