Clean Power

Published on September 17th, 2010 | by Zachary Shahan


New Vertical-Axis Wind Turbine Unveiled

September 17th, 2010 by  

Yeah, that doesn’t look like your normal wind turbine, does it? But this new wind turbine by Sauer Energy is not 100% unique — it features some great new innovations, but is built on an existing wind turbine design that seems to becoming a more and more popular, a vertical-axis wind turbine (VAWT) design.

Micro Turbine Advantages and Growth

Micro turbines like this are attractive, in general, for one of the simple reasons solar panels are so attractive — individuals can easily put them on their homes and businesses. Plus, with wind energy as a whole growing rapidly (it is actually the fastest-growing form of renewable energy), it is only inevitable that some people would like to bring traditional, large-scale turbines down to a more human or household scale.

Regarding the advantages of micro turbines that can be installed on an office building or a hospital, Sauer Energy points out:

Economically, onsite installations dramatically improve the return on investment of wind power, not to mention the rebates now in the offering. Power generated offsite, such as at wind farms, is still subject to transmission and distribution charges. Conversely, onsite solutions take a portion of the organizational power requirements “off the grid.”

While I believe that large-scale, centralized energy will always have its place, I am also one who believes that more decentralized, micro-scale electricity generation needs to and is becoming a bigger part of the electricity supply — 13% of utilities actually believe that centralized electricity will be obsolete by 2050.

Furthermore, micro turbines address “a number of [wind turbines’] known shortcomings, such as noise pollution, minimum blade speed threshold, bird endangerment and space limitation, while enhancing its advantages.”

Addressing the Limitations of Micro Turbines

The problem with micro turbines has historically been that they are not the most efficient electricity generators.

Sauer Energy’s new VAWT design is helping to address that. Our friend Timothy Hurst over at Earth & Industry writes: “its dimpled design could make it more efficient at capturing and converting wind into usable electricity. Officials from Sauer believes its unique aerodynamics and advanced design features will distinguish its wind turbine system in the residential and micro wind-turbine market.”

Advantages of the company’s design, according to Sauer Energy, itself, are as follows:

A traditional horizontal blade design turbine of similar size requires a greater level of wind speed to generate power. The vertical axis turbines provide omni-directional wind collection. The torque produced allows it to make power while turning at slower blade speeds.

It only takes a 6 mph wind to turn the blade. One benefit of this feature is obvious: It can work at locations with lower average wind speeds. Therefore, the geographic option for using wind energy is greatly expanded; a company may not need to be located on a hilltop or in coastal locations to reap the benefits. Plus, it reduces wind direction limitations, because it can collect wind power on a 360-degree basis. Horizontal blade technology must spend time and energy turning into the wind when the wind changes direction.

This new technology looks like a promising step forward in the micro wind turbine market, and in the wind energy market in general.

Any more comments or information on this technology? Comment below.

More stories on vertical-axis wind turbines on CleanTechnica:

  1. Offshore Vertical Axis Wind Turbines
  2. CalTech Vertical Axis Wind Turbines Boost Wind Farm Power Efficiency 10x
  3. Vertical-Axis Wind Turbines — An Option for You?

Image Credit: Earth & Industry

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don't jump to conclusions.

  • lyle upchurch

    I have a pat pending V.A.W.T. design that is capable of creating useable energy in less than three mph.A PRTO THAT HAS A SWEPT AREA OF 48 sq ft has generated 3500 watts in 24 mph over 20 hp in 35 mph.I need serious partner.e-mail

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  • Barbara

    OK, Who out there wants to develop a turn-key 5 Megawatt facility with this new Vertical-Axis Wind Turbine? Experimental as it is.
    Please only serious inquiries.

    • Aj Saini

      Dear Barbara, but vertical windmills are primarily being targeted below MW scale since they provide cheap power in off grid mode along with solar PV panels using thin film. Hence these are compting with big wind farms but are good for off grid ranches and homes and rural electrification purposes.

      • Bob_Wallace

        You assume they work.

        History tells us that they are unlikely to do so. Best we wait for data from a reliable source.

        There are HAWTs in use on thousands of off-grid ranches and homes right now. They do work.

        Several VAWTs have been marketed. They’ve failed.

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  • Laszlo Kovacs

    Dear Reader:
    I have been reading about wind turbines to explore what possibilities are out there in the world. Since your web page allows comments, please allow me to make some comments. Nothing is toward you or your company but rather to the wind turbine industry.
    The very first thing that SMAKED ME in the face is cost. Yes I know you need to be paid back for your R & D cost. Consider which would be better for anybody in the business of selling pencils. There are 2 possible ways to become a millionaire selling pencils. You can sell one pencil for one million dollar or sell one million pencils for one dollar each. Which would be more likely to happen to become a millionaire?
    Next item. Many of you have designed systems for many different conditions. However, I haven’t found anything (other than battery backups) to make it easy to switch between wind generation and returning back into the grid when there is lack of wind. Most of us do not wish to have anything to do with batteries and all that is involved with them.
    I think there are many people in this world such as I. I have a portable generator for backup power. In conjunction with this generator I use a “power transfer switch” such as: for a very easily switchable system between generator and the grid in either direction.
    In my humble opinion a wind turbine manufacturer that would utilize a similarly ease of use switching between the power grid and the home/business at a reasonable price will take over the market.
    Laszlo Kovacs

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  • Micky Badgero

    Unveiled? This looks like a computer animation, not a real product.

  • Jared

    Tough crowd. You are all assuming that these will be deployed in areas that already have access to power. We could use these micro turbines in a rural telelcommunications environment powering remote Optical Network Terminals that require 24×7/365 power in locations with seasonal (or no) power. Solar has been considered, but a micro wind option would be great to have.


    • Moon88

      We assume they will be deployed on homes and offices (versus telcom towers)…because that is what the article explicitly says.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Or you could put up HAWTs which have been shown to work and produce power.

  • Mitch


    Link with 2 brief excerpts:

    12 Small Wind Turbines Tested in the Netherlands

    The Dutch coastal province of Zeeland (a very windy place) placed twelve of these much hyped machines in a row on an open plain (picture above)….

    Two real-world tests performed in the Netherlands and in the UK confirm our earlier analysis that small wind turbines are a fundamentally flawed technology. Their financial payback time is much longer than their life expectancy, and in urban areas, some poorly placed wind turbines will not even deliver as much energy as needed to operate them (let alone energy needed to produce them). Given their long payback period relative to their life expectancy, most small wind turbines are net energy consumers rather than net energy producers.

    The machines face two fundamental problems: there is not enough wind at low altitudes in a built-up environment, and the energy production of a wind turbine declines more than proportionately to the rotor diameter. Wind power rules, but small wind turbines are a swindle.

  • Mario F.

    All these VAWTs claiming that they can “start turning” or “make power” at lower wind speeds than traditional turbines are being disingenuous. Power equals wind speed cubed. The amount of power being generated at low wind speeds is therefore exponentially less. What good is a spinning turbine that generates a couple watts?

    And “omni-directional”? Traditional turbines pivot to take advantage of wind in all directions. Gusty, turbulent wind is not useful. Clean, directional wind is required for any serious generation.

    This is a toy.

    • Andre

      Buddy, I think you are missing a few variables in your equation, and missing a few equations to arrive at your conclusion…

    • Aj Saini

      Dear Mario, the concept of power generation in vertical windmill is different from horizontal and hence it can use winds from any direction and provide cut in wind speeds lower then horizontal windmills hence are quite effective in lower wind speeds and offer cheaper alternative in less than KW and Watts scale for off grid power generation coupled with solar PV.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Andre and Aj – you can make those claims but if you look around in the real world you will find almost no VAWTs producing usable power.

        VAWTs were given an honest test a couple of decades ago and they simply fell by the wayside. Many artistic blade designs have been presented over the years but none have produced an impressive power output.

        Do you see a power production curve for this wind-flapper? Or just some wordage about dimples and stuff?

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