I’m Brian Antonich the Small Wind Program Analyst for Windustry (www.windustry.org). I’ve seen many companies that are trying to market designs similar to these.
Here are the facts:
1. Vertical axis wind turbines have been around for longer than horizontal axis turbines. They are not new or innovative. They are generally a less efficient design and have difficult technical problems to overcome.
2. Horizontal axis turbines are the prominent design because they do not have some of the technical issues that Vertical axis machines to…namely fewer vibrations because as vertical axis machines spin, one blade will pass in front of another for a short period of time creating a difference in torque for a very short time during each rotation. Think of your car running out of alignment for 10-15 years and think of how much damage that will cause to your engine. This will also cause problems for a wind turbine.
I understand that this design probably has fewer vibrations, but at the expense of efficiency. This is a drag design turbine unlike many other vertical and horizontal axis machines that take advantage of Bernoulli’s Principle to cause lift on the blade due to a difference in pressure between the top (curved) side and the bottom (flat) side of the blade. The lift type machine is much more efficient.
3. Past commentators are correct in stating that if the machine isn’t going to be putting out 1 kW of energy until the wind speed reaches 40 mph in 99% of locations you wouldn’t be able to light a light bulb most days.
4. Small (home and farm sized) turbines are generally not dangerous to birds. Driving your car down the freeway is much more dangerous to birds and other wild life than putting a turbine up.
Commercial scale turbines (big enough to produce energy for hundreds of homes) pose only a minor threat to birds. Machines constructed in the 1980′s and 1990′s had three problems which made them dangerous to birds:
a. Lattice towers of the towers were great places for birds to nest. Bids would take flight to do what birds do and fly directly into the blades. With the incorporation of tubular towers into wind farm design the number of bird deaths has dropped significantly.
b. The blades spun very fast on early turbine designs. With new designs the blades of the machines spin at a very low rate compared to years past and the number of bird deaths has decreased immensely as well.
c. Poor siting of wind farms put them in areas of high migration rates or other sensitive areas. Altamont Pass in California and several wind farms on the Great Plains are examples of bad siting practices. At Altamont Pass thousands of birds migrate through that corridor each year through turbines with lattice towers and old technology. Not good for birds. There are several species of ground nesting birds on the great plains that are sensitive to tall structures. Tall structures equal tree where a owl or hawk might be perched ready to have lunch on babies. This makes mother birds very uncomfortable and want to go away. This is also not good.
Wind farms go through an extensive siting review process involving input from the public and experts on birds and other wildlife. This has caused impacts from wind farms on wildlife to decrease significantly.
I think that’s probably enough to spark some good discussion. Please feel free to contact me if any of you have questions about wind energy.
Just remember before investing in anything, look at all the alternatives before making a decision. This may be a good design…but there are other designs that are much better than this one.
Brian Antonich, M.S.
Small Wind Program Analyst
2105 1st Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55404
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