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Clean Power vertical axis wind turbine

Published on June 20th, 2008 | by Timothy B. Hurst

75

Vertical-Axis Wind Turbines: The Future of Micro Wind? (Video)



 
vertical axis wind turbine Walking the floor of WINDPOWER 2008, the annual conference and trade show for the wind energy industry, one couldn’t help but be transfixed by all of the different types of turbines – at least I couldn’t. The wind turbine has become the iconic of clean, renewable energy. But the classic three-bladed horizontal axis wind turbine, with its gracefully swooping blades, has become the symbol of not only renewable energy, but also of environmental consciousness and ecological possibility.
 

 
Despite the ubiquity of the three-bladed turbine, the oft-overlooked vertical-axes turbines are making quite a splash in the world of wind energy, especially in small and micro-applications. So what’s all the fuss about? Vertical-axis turbines apparently do not suffer from some of the same problems that plague small wind applications in urban settings including, aesthetic concerns, space requirements and sound levels

Other advantages of vertical-axis turbines:

  • Can produce up to 50% more electricity per year than conventional turbines with the same swept area;
  • Generate electricity at much lower wind speeds, as low as 4 mph (1.5 m/s)
  • Will continue to generate power in high wind speeds, up to 130 mph (60m/s) depending on the mode;
  • Direct-drive units with no gearbox means a more efficient transfer of energy and no leaking oil;
  • Will not harm wildlife, in terms of bird and bat strikes.

Below, I’ll cover some more basic differences and show you a few photos and short videos of some of these turbines I saw down in Houston at WINDPOWER 2008.

The designers from Taiwanese start-up A.N.I.T.A. Energy (pictured above) showed me why their models have a low start-up wind speed, and that is because of the light metal bands you can see surrounding the turbine itself. Apparently this design allows users with a less substantial wind resource (particularly those in urban applications), squeeze some electricity from the local winds. The larger model pictured above (and in the second video below) is scalable and can be stacked as many as three-high and integrated with the rooftops of large buildings. (Caution: the mic used for this video was very sensitive to the sound of the electric blower at the display. This is not the sound of the turbine. Adjust your volume accordingly!)

Unlike three-bladed designs, vertical-axis turbines do not need to “right themselves” into the wind, they are always in a fixed position in terms of their orientation. A few of the models I saw, most notably the designs from the Korea-based KR Windpower, (video above) had a manifold-type device that would swing around and funnel more wind into the turbine from the direction the wind was strongest. Continued…

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About the Author

is the founder of ecopolitology and the executive editor at LiveOAK Media, a media network about the politics of energy and the environment, green business, cleantech, and green living. When not reading, writing, thinking or talking about environmental politics with anyone who will listen, Tim spends his time skiing in Colorado's high country, hiking with his dog, and getting dirty in his vegetable garden.



  • L. Denny

    Is there any scientific evidence that vertical axis wind turbines don’t kill bats? If so I would very much like to see it as we have been unable to put up a 5 KW horizontal axis one because new rules here in Cornwall, England prevent you from siting them closer than 50 metres to a hedgerow (because of the bats), which is not suitable on our site.

  • Jan

    I’ve seen that vertrically thing on the mountains and I was impressed. Soon, a strong storm happened. After that, this turbine was only crap. Good idea but not realistic for long-term-use

    • http://cleantechnica.com/ Zachary Shahan

      you’ve seen it on a mountain? where exactly?

    • YellowDog

      You should reevaluate your tendency to judge the value of a technology based on a single example of that technology.

      Yugos suck therefore all small cars suck???

  • Dashingrajeev07

    sir i am student of m.tech final year and making project on vertical axis turbine.which is combination of darious and savonius.please guide me.

  • Anumakonda Jagadeesh

    Good design. I also designed a Vertical Axis Savonius Rotor for battery charging. It uses a 30 degrees wind concentrator over and below the rotor. The author conducted wind tunnel tests on models simulating dams and found a 30 degrees slope increases wind speed by 1.5 times. Since power is cube of velocity,the power gain is 3.34 times. This has its origin from nature in that how is it we experience high winds on a hill top and dams? It is due to height and due to slope.

    This Savonius Wind Rotor will be a boon in rural areas.

    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India
    Wind Energy Expert
    E-mail: anumakonda.jagadeesh@gmail.com

  • Meddoc1grt

    I think I like to try one of these to see how efficient they are.

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, me too :D

  • Thomas – EV

    I lkie the idea with the combination of wind and solar. The vertical wind turbines are really a great approach for roofs of flat city buildings. The noise won´t be a problem at all on higher buildings

  • http://muthaofinvention.blogspot.com/2008/04/my-windmill.html Paul Hammant

    The Butler VAWT design has been subject to patents applications going back some 100 years or so. Incl mine (rejected in 1992).

    There is so much potential to farms of these over the classic horizontal design. These and solar are the wave of the future.

    Click through http://muthaofinvention.blogspot.com/2008/04/my-windmill.html and to see more videos of the butler design.

  • http://www.wildnaturesolutions.com/windturbines.html craig sparks

    Check these VAWT’s out..these GUS turbines are the state of the art,

    and affordable.

    The copy-cats are 50% more expensive and produce less power.

    GUS Vertical Wind Turbines…100% bird and bat safe!!

    Nothing else comes close!

    go to:

    http://www.wildnaturesolutions.com/windturbines

  • http://www.wildnaturesolutions.com/windturbines.html craig sparks

    Check these VAWT’s out..these GUS turbines are the state of the art,

    and affordable.

    The copy-cats are 50% more expensive and produce less power.

    GUS Vertical Wind Turbines…100% bird and bat safe!!

    Nothing else comes close!

    go to:

    http://www.wildnaturesolutions.com/windturbines

  • Jack

    The cost of our vawt is about USD20,000 for a 10kw unit

  • Jack

    The cost of our vawt is about USD20,000 for a 10kw unit

  • kasia

    Wind power has been cheap enough for home deployment for over 100 years.

  • kasia

    Wind power has been cheap enough for home deployment for over 100 years.

  • Kari

    I like the idea of putting these vertical turbines near existing power lines. So much of the country side is being ruined by the huge old fashioned turbines.

    But how is the sound level, which is a problem for the big turbines. Also, can they be low to the ground?

  • Kari

    I like the idea of putting these vertical turbines near existing power lines. So much of the country side is being ruined by the huge old fashioned turbines.

    But how is the sound level, which is a problem for the big turbines. Also, can they be low to the ground?

  • mary Ellen Schuttening

    Sounds wonderful! QUICK QUESTIONS: How much does one cost? How noisy is this product (in decibles).

    Thank you!

    Mary

  • mary Ellen Schuttening

    Sounds wonderful! QUICK QUESTIONS: How much does one cost? How noisy is this product (in decibles).

    Thank you!

    Mary

  • Philip Igiri

    Im a final year mechanical engineering student at the Papua New Guinea University of technology, doing my project on vertical axis wind turbines. Any information you can provide will be much appreciated.

    cheers!

  • Philip Igiri

    Im a final year mechanical engineering student at the Papua New Guinea University of technology, doing my project on vertical axis wind turbines. Any information you can provide will be much appreciated.

    cheers!

  • http://windenergy7.com/turbines/ Home Turbines

    I work for WindEnergy7.com We design, develop, and fabricate small wind/solar hybrid systems. In all the designs that we have reviewed, none of the vertical designs stand up to the top of class horizontal axis small wind turbines. The three bladed horizontal axis design is simply a smaller version of successful wind power designs used for utility scale. These are a sideshow diversion and I don’t believe will ever succeed in RESULTS over existing designs on the market. There’s a reason there’s no data on most of them.

  • http://windenergy7.com/turbines/ Home Turbines

    I work for WindEnergy7.com We design, develop, and fabricate small wind/solar hybrid systems. In all the designs that we have reviewed, none of the vertical designs stand up to the top of class horizontal axis small wind turbines. The three bladed horizontal axis design is simply a smaller version of successful wind power designs used for utility scale. These are a sideshow diversion and I don’t believe will ever succeed in RESULTS over existing designs on the market. There’s a reason there’s no data on most of them.

  • Greg Strat

    In the town that I live in off Nantucket sound oponents of the wind farm that is proposed have bene fighting the wind power plans of nearly every person that wants to install a wind turbine on there property.

    Tower heights, lot line set backs, etc.

    Vertical wind turbines look so great and would not have so much oposition. I would love to have one or two of these on my roof. And it is nearly always windy here. And I think they are very apealing to the eye. I WANT ONE!!

    GS

  • Greg Strat

    In the town that I live in off Nantucket sound oponents of the wind farm that is proposed have bene fighting the wind power plans of nearly every person that wants to install a wind turbine on there property.

    Tower heights, lot line set backs, etc.

    Vertical wind turbines look so great and would not have so much oposition. I would love to have one or two of these on my roof. And it is nearly always windy here. And I think they are very apealing to the eye. I WANT ONE!!

    GS

  • Pingback: Researchers Find High Bat Mortalities from Sudden Changes in Air Pressure at Wind Farm : CleanTechnica

  • http://www.xceed.com Saed

    I have not been able to locate contact info for the Taiwanese start-up A.N.I.T.A. Energy ….can you help to provide their website or other contact info?

    Many thanks,

    Saed Taweel

  • http://www.xceed.com Saed

    I have not been able to locate contact info for the Taiwanese start-up A.N.I.T.A. Energy ….can you help to provide their website or other contact info?

    Many thanks,

    Saed Taweel

  • Pingback: New Study Says City-Based Rooftop Wind Power Doesn’t Pay Off : CleanTechnica

  • Kelly Vielmo

    Great website with lots of information. Where can I find a list of local (I’m in Washington, DC) or national wind turbine installers?

    Thanks! Kelly Vielmo – kvielmo@gmail.com

  • Kelly Vielmo

    Great website with lots of information. Where can I find a list of local (I’m in Washington, DC) or national wind turbine installers?

    Thanks! Kelly Vielmo – kvielmo@gmail.com

  • L Danao

    To Bob Aman: helix configuration allows a flatter profile of torque unlike a straight savonius where the torque fluctuates depending on the orientation of the wind turbine against the wind.

    To Li Han: adding something that will increase drag will increase fuel consumption. if you can extract energy from the relative movement of the wind with respect to the car, that will definitely be lesser than the input energy from consuming more fuel because of drag.

  • L Danao

    To Bob Aman: helix configuration allows a flatter profile of torque unlike a straight savonius where the torque fluctuates depending on the orientation of the wind turbine against the wind.

    To Li Han: adding something that will increase drag will increase fuel consumption. if you can extract energy from the relative movement of the wind with respect to the car, that will definitely be lesser than the input energy from consuming more fuel because of drag.

  • M Smith

    In the southwest deserts we have used wind driven turbines for years to draw the hot air from our attics to reduce the heat load of the roof on the home. They spin wildly during the days when there is no much wind. Why can’t this be combined with a small vertical generator to achieve both reduced cooling loads and some of the power needed to energize the homes?

  • M Smith

    In the southwest deserts we have used wind driven turbines for years to draw the hot air from our attics to reduce the heat load of the roof on the home. They spin wildly during the days when there is no much wind. Why can’t this be combined with a small vertical generator to achieve both reduced cooling loads and some of the power needed to energize the homes?

  • Li Han

    Here’s an idea…

    Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could design a wind energy kit for cars – an easy add-on kit to improve mpg by generating wind-power electricity while traveling at speed?

    get in touch if you think this is possible. :) lihan.mindseye@gmail.com

  • Li Han

    Here’s an idea…

    Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could design a wind energy kit for cars – an easy add-on kit to improve mpg by generating wind-power electricity while traveling at speed?

    get in touch if you think this is possible. :) lihan.mindseye@gmail.com

  • http://sporkmonger.com/ Bob Aman

    That helical Savonius turbine is interesting. I don’t think I’ve seen a helical configuration of one of those before. Looks nice. Curious if it has any significant performance improvement over the normal variety.

  • http://sporkmonger.com/ Bob Aman

    That helical Savonius turbine is interesting. I don’t think I’ve seen a helical configuration of one of those before. Looks nice. Curious if it has any significant performance improvement over the normal variety.

  • Mr. Sustainable

    Florida’s Showcase Green Envirohome is very interested in this technology as part of its overall mission of promoting clean tech and innovation.

    Learn more about the project at

    http://www.FSGE.net

  • http://www.artformfunction.com Michael

    The turbines in the top picture are a combination of two different rotors. The Savonius rotors in the center of the turbine are self starting and work in lower windspeeds, but are not efficient in higher winds. The eggbeater shaped bands around them are a Darrieus rotor, which needs a push to get started, but is very efficient in higher windspeeds. Combining the two has been done before, although perhaps not in a mass produced product.

  • http://www.artformfunction.com Michael

    The turbines in the top picture are a combination of two different rotors. The Savonius rotors in the center of the turbine are self starting and work in lower windspeeds, but are not efficient in higher winds. The eggbeater shaped bands around them are a Darrieus rotor, which needs a push to get started, but is very efficient in higher windspeeds. Combining the two has been done before, although perhaps not in a mass produced product.

  • Mr. Sustainable

    Florida’s Showcase Green Envirohome is very interested in this technology as part of its overall mission of promoting clean tech and innovation.

    Learn more about the project at

    http://www.FSGE.net

  • Matt

    I recently covered this event for my Green energy news portal / blog.

    Go here

    http://mattgoesgreen.com/category/windpower-2008-conference-and-exhibition/

    Lots of phtotos of the show including many many differenet turbines as wells as some video interviews etc.

    -Enjoy

    -Matt

  • http://residential-wind-power.com Residential Wind Power

    Great article on wind energy! I like the stats you mention on vertical axis turbines and there efficiencies over more conventional wind turbines.

    I have also been blogging about vertical axis wind turbines on a residential scale over at http://www.residential-wind-power.com/category/vertical-axis-wind-turbine/

  • http://residential-wind-power.com Residential Wind Power

    Great article on wind energy! I like the stats you mention on vertical axis turbines and there efficiencies over more conventional wind turbines.

    I have also been blogging about vertical axis wind turbines on a residential scale over at http://www.residential-wind-power.com/category/vertical-axis-wind-turbine/

  • aaaa

    Darius and airfoil-type VAWT’s have similar efficiency numbers as the more traditional horizontal axis wind tubrines, however they have a major drawback of NOT being self-starting. If you just place a stationary turbine in the wind, it will not start on it own, you need to get it moving to some threshold RPM after which it begin to generate power on its own. Having a starting mechanism adds to the expense and complexity.

  • aaaa

    Darius and airfoil-type VAWT’s have similar efficiency numbers as the more traditional horizontal axis wind tubrines, however they have a major drawback of NOT being self-starting. If you just place a stationary turbine in the wind, it will not start on it own, you need to get it moving to some threshold RPM after which it begin to generate power on its own. Having a starting mechanism adds to the expense and complexity.

  • Jeremy

    the only think is that from what i have read vertical-axis turbines do not do well in places that ice could build up on the blades

  • Jeremy

    the only think is that from what i have read vertical-axis turbines do not do well in places that ice could build up on the blades

  • Mark Thien

    how about the life of the battery which use to store the electricity generated by these wind turbine or solar panel? when the battery expired, it post an environment problem as I guess it is not recyclable and the lifespan of the battery last only 5 years.

  • Mark Thien

    how about the life of the battery which use to store the electricity generated by these wind turbine or solar panel? when the battery expired, it post an environment problem as I guess it is not recyclable and the lifespan of the battery last only 5 years.

  • Matt

    I recently covered this event for my Green energy news portal / blog.

    Go here

    http://mattgoesgreen.com/category/windpower-2008-conference-and-exhibition/

    Lots of phtotos of the show including many many differenet turbines as wells as some video interviews etc.

    -Enjoy

    -Matt

  • Pingback: Vertical-Axis Wind Turbines: The Future of Micro Wind? with video - The Environment Site Forums

  • http://muthaofinvention.blogspot.com/2008/04/my-windmill.html Paul Hammant

    The Butler VAWT design has been subject to patents applications going back some 100 years or so. Incl mine (rejected in 1992).

    There is so much potential to farms of these over the classic horizontal design. These and solar are the wave of the future.

    Click through http://muthaofinvention.blogspot.com/2008/04/my-windmill.html and to see more videos of the butler design.

  • Pingback: Vertical-Axis Wind Turbines: The Future of Micro Wind? « dreamschooner.blog

  • Pingback: Wind power pinup « Wondering & Pondering’s Weblog

  • JImmy SDean

    Nice, Wind is an excellent source of energy.

    JT

    http://www.FireMe.to/udi

  • JImmy SDean

    Nice, Wind is an excellent source of energy.

    JT

    http://www.FireMe.to/udi

  • Ethan B.

    I too believe that the Vertical Access Wind Turbines (VAWT) can and will be a viable source of renewable energies in the coming years. The Helix Wind (http://www.helixwind.com) group look to be releasing their product this year and boy are they good looking!

  • Ethan B.

    I too believe that the Vertical Access Wind Turbines (VAWT) can and will be a viable source of renewable energies in the coming years. The Helix Wind (http://www.helixwind.com) group look to be releasing their product this year and boy are they good looking!

  • http://blog.myboulton.com Leo Boulton

    I’m sure that they will not be cheap enough for the regular American to deploy one at home.

  • http://blog.myboulton.com Leo Boulton

    I’m sure that they will not be cheap enough for the regular American to deploy one at home.

  • Pingback: Wind Turbines — When can I get one? « jarrodmartin.net

  • http://DebateUSA.com Jamie W

    VAWT should be installed on every power, light, and utilitiy pole where it make sense to do so. Think of the thousands of miles of U.S highway that could be used for power generation. This is a no brainer.

  • http://DebateUSA.com Jamie W

    VAWT should be installed on every power, light, and utilitiy pole where it make sense to do so. Think of the thousands of miles of U.S highway that could be used for power generation. This is a no brainer.

  • http://ooyes.net web design company

    i want one of those so bad. it’s like art that pays you for letting it sit near/on your house.

  • http://ooyes.net web design company

    i want one of those so bad. it’s like art that pays you for letting it sit near/on your house.

  • http://ecopolitology.org Timothy B. Hurst

    Peter,

    Thanks for that great link to Mother Earth News – lots of good stuff in there. I’ll give it a more thorough read later this weekend.

  • http://ecopolitology.org Timothy B. Hurst

    Peter,

    Thanks for that great link to Mother Earth News – lots of good stuff in there. I’ll give it a more thorough read later this weekend.

  • Peter

    These are beautiful, but I wonder how their efficiency works out in comparison to a more traditional turbine? A feb 2008 article in mother earth news indicates that we have a long ways to go:

    http://www.motherearthnews.com/Renewable-Energy/2008-02-01/Wind-Power-Horizontal-and-Vertical-Axis-Wind-Turbines.aspx

    Alas!

  • Peter

    These are beautiful, but I wonder how their efficiency works out in comparison to a more traditional turbine? A feb 2008 article in mother earth news indicates that we have a long ways to go:

    http://www.motherearthnews.com/Renewable-Energy/2008-02-01/Wind-Power-Horizontal-and-Vertical-Axis-Wind-Turbines.aspx

    Alas!

  • http://www.greensmithconsulting.com Paul Smith

    Awesome to see these getting the publicity they deserve! People may also want to check out the beautiful Helix Wind turbines that I came across last April at the Green California Summit. Wrote a piece about them here: http://ecopreneurist.com/2008/04/18/bringing-wind-power-down-to-earth/

  • http://www.greensmithconsulting.com Paul Smith

    Awesome to see these getting the publicity they deserve! People may also want to check out the beautiful Helix Wind turbines that I came across last April at the Green California Summit. Wrote a piece about them here: http://ecopreneurist.com/2008/04/18/bringing-wind-power-down-to-earth/

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