The App Challenge project that Rajveer discusses below can be viewed from his team’s profile on the ECCE GitHub website:


This year I participated in the ECCE App Challenge for the second time. My teammates included Yorgan Pitt, Edward Seh-Taylor and Sean Leipe. Our app, UPWIND, is a web application that aims to highlight the potential of rooftop wind power in improving the sustainability of urban power generation in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The accessibility of reliable and renewable energy is a key component in developing sustainable urban communities. To date, only 17.4% of the Canadian national energy supply is derived from renewable sources [1]. Despite wind power surging forward as one of the fastest growing energy sources worldwide, only 5% of electricity generation in Canada comes from wind. Between 2013 to 2017 the Canadian government invested $13.7 billion into the development of wind-powered energy generation [1]. One less-explored facet of wind power comes from small, rooftop-mounted turbines.

The city of Vancouver continues to grow and develop, with $5.1 billion dollars of building permits issued in 2018 alone. Currently, a large portion of Vancouver’s energy stems from natural gas and hydro electricity. The city has set a target of achieving 100% renewable energy consumption by the year 2050 [2]. With a focus on generating clean energy to power their urban development, Vancouver is a potential site for urban wind power generation.

Vertical axis wind turbines (VAWTs) have been found to be advantageous to traditional horizontal axis turbines (HAWTs) in several aspects [3]. The design of vertical turbines compensates for some of the shortcomings found in traditional wind power technologies, as they can be placed very close to one another with minimal or no loss of efficiency [4]. Vertical turbines have also been shown to work better than their horizontal counterparts in sub-optimal wind climates, such as rooftops.

UPWIND is designed to focus on three characteristics; Wind Analysis, Analyzing Existing Buildings and Exploring Future Potential.

Wind Analysis

3D building multipatch features were created by extruding building footprints from Vancouver’s Open Data portal, according to their provided roof heights. Several important wind energy attributes were calculated for each of these buildings based on numerical modeling simulations found in the Canadian Wind Atlas. Theoretical VAWT models were then derived to put on the buildings based on a minimum diameter of the turbine set to 2.5 meters, the wind cut-in at 2 m/s, rated wind speed at 12 m/s and power of each turbine at 1000W. By modifying the power generation equation acquired from Natural Resources Canada, the maximum potential wind power output was calculated with:

Power (kWh)=((100(WindSpeed)-200)0.031536)/0.0036

Analyzing Existing Buildings

For each neighbourhood in Vancouver we have a 3D web scene containing buildings classified by zoning category. Several energy-related attributes have been calculated for every building in each neighbourhood based on numerical modeling simulations taken from the Canadian Wind Atlas at 30m, 50m, and 80m above sea level. The roof area of a building allows us to calculate how many turbines can be theoretically mounted on it, based on their required separation distance for maximum efficiency. By referencing the Wind Atlas projections based on each building’s absolute height above ground, the maximum yearly power output for each individual turbine has been calculated. By multiplying this by the maximum number of turbines the building can hold, we obtain the maximum potential wind power for this building in kWh.

Exploring Future Potential

The interactive portion of our app lets the user evaluate wind potential at future sites in Vancouver using a heavily configured version of the Smart Editor Widget. When the user draws a polygon representing a building footprint, several wind-related variables are calculated at different heights, based on where the footprint is located in Vancouver. A pop-up then gives the mean annual wind speed in m/s and potential energy per turbine in kWh for heights of 30m, 50m, and >80m above the ground surface.

The web application is an informative step forward to generating a sustainable urban community using wind power, giving control to residents and members of the community to assess the potential production of energy using the rooftops currently available and new buildings that can be made.


[1] Natural Resources Canada – Energy Fact Book (2018)

[2] City of Vancouver Renewable City Action Plan: Economic Modelling Results (2017)

[3] Stand-Alone Wind Energy systems: A Buyer’s Guide (Natural Resources Canada, 2003)

[4] Wind Turbine Placement