History was made this morning as NYC unveiled its first commercial-scale wind turbine. The 100kW wind turbine is the largest of its kind in the city and Inhabitat was on the scene to witness its debut at the Sunset Park Material Recovery Facility (MRF), the primary recycling facility for all of NYC's plastic, glass and metal waste. Perched on the Brooklyn waterfront, the turbine adds proudly to the city skyline at a height of 160 feet. Its wind power is combined with a pre-existing 600kW solar power installation, which together generate up to 20 percent of the facility's energy from on-site renewables.
Each month, the Sunset Park MRF in the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal processes over 15,000 tons of recycling waste from the NYC boroughs, and the new wind turbine was one of the first sustainable steps towards compensating for the amount of energy and cost needed to power this massive facility. The majority of glass, metal and plastic arrives via barge from other transfer facilities in Queens and the Bronx, and large collection vehicles truck in the rest of the waste from Brooklyn. The development of the MRF has significantly reduced vehicle emissions, road congestion and fuel consumption – the equivalent of 150,000 annual truck trips – since the need for NYC to export most of its recycling waste has now been eliminated.
Manufactured by Northern Power Systems and installed by Aegis Renewable Energy, the 100kW turbine debuts as the largest commercial turbine in the city, not to be confused with other industrial-scale turbines that exist on wind farms, which reach upwards of 500kW to 3,000kW, as well as residential-scale turbines which only produce 25kW and 500kW of energy.
The wind turbine alone is producing 4 percent of the energy required to run the Sunset Park Material Recovery Facility. The facility is operated by the Sims Metal Management recycling company, the world’s largest metals and electronics recycler. The MRF also includes an educational center for local youth to learn about the recycling process. The sustainable facility was designed by Selldorf Architects, and the site itself is elevated by four feet of glass and crushed rock recycled from the Second Avenue subway construction, which has kept the Brooklyn waterfront above the flood line, even during Hurricane Sandy.
The Sunset Park MRF is a joint effort between Sims Municipal Recycling, DSNY, the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), who have contributed over $110 million into the development of the facility. The turbine alone required an investment of $750,000, and Sims Municipal Recycling says that it will pay for itself in approximately five years. There is no word as to whether more wind turbines or other forms of renewable energy are planned for the site as of yet.
Images by Laura Mordas-Schenkein for Inhabitat