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Clean Power Ford and Wind Energy micro wind turbine

Published on November 13th, 2014 | by Tina Casey

122

Micro Wind Turbines Could Be Huge Deal For Ford

November 13th, 2014 by  


Ford has just tapped four dealerships to receive micro wind turbines in a first-of-its-kind partnership with the aptly named company Wind Energy Corporation, and we are already convinced this is just the first tiny ripple in a massive wave of wind energy installations at Ford locations. The new vertical-design turbines spell out Ford in big, bold letters, providing a perfect example of the unique branding and marketing opportunities that micro wind turbines provide to businesses.

The idea is, if you’re going to spend money on an elevated sign anyways, you might as well put it into service generating clean, renewable energy to attract and serve your growing cadre of energy-aware customers and EV buyers.

Ford and Wind Energy micro wind turbine

Ford and Wind Energy micro wind turbine (screenshot, cropped courtesy of Ford).

The Wind Energy Corporation Micro Wind Turbine

Ford’s press material on the new micro wind turbines was a little thin on detail and the website for Wind Energy was under construction at the time of this writing, but the folks at Wind Energy were nice enough to email additional specs for the wind turbine.

The vertical wind sail micro wind turbine is part of a proprietary integrated system that includes a 5.5 kilowatt wind energy generator and a 7.0 kilowatt solar panel array (available as rooftop or ground mounted), all coordinated with smart electrical and control systems. Wind Energy calls it, what else, The Windy System™.

According to Ford, each Windy System can deliver about 20,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, which is enough to charge a Ford Focus Electric 870 times.

 

The turbine is designed specifically for placement in proximity to buildings and people, meaning that it is quiet, and Wind Energy claims that it is “bird-bat-butterfly friendly.” At about 20 feet tall and 13 feet in diameter, the slim silhouette also helps from an aesthetic point of view. Overall, the turbine plus the tower is 50 to 65 feet tall.

As for durability, anything at 6 mph and more gets you a current, although the turbine will lock down for safety if things reach a hectic 40 mph.

Micro Wind Turbines And Ford

Along with our sister site Gas2.org we’ve been following Ford’s transition into the EV market. Aside from retail hybrid and electric vehicles, the company has also been all over sustainable strategies at its manufacturing sites, and it has become one of the leaders in the trend toward renewable energy packaging for home EV charging.

Extending the renewable energy messaging out to the company’s dealers was the next step. Under the terms of the new partnership, Wind Energy will put up $750,000 to install The Windy System at the four dealerships (we didn’t ask, but that sounds like a power purchase agreement to us). Aside from EV charging, the output will also go to power outdoor lighting and indoor energy use.

Apparently Ford and Wind Energy tapped the four dealers in recognition of their “exceptional commitment to clean energy” as well as their suitability as wind and solar energy sites, so let’s give them a shout-out:

Dana Ford Lincoln, Staten Island, New York
Tom Holzer Ford, Farmington Hills, Michigan
The Ford Store, Morgan Hill, California
Fiesta Ford, Indio, California

Advantages Of Micro Wind Turbines

While we’ve been huge fans of tall-tower, utility scale wind turbines (especially in the emerging offshore wind energy sector), we also have the loves for micro wind turbines. You don’t get the scale efficiencies, but with micro wind turbines commercial property owners and tenants do get the twofer of doubling up signage with renewable energy generation. If your wind is in the doldrums, no problem, because the turbine still functions as a sign.

It’s also worth noting that, despite some naysayers in the wind industry, the US Department of Energy is anticipating that micro wind turbines will play a role in the future energy landscape.

Wind Energy’s choice of turbine dovetails with the branding aspect because unlike bladed turbines, the wind sail’s broad, sail-like surfaces lend themselves to lettering and other graphics.

Speaking of branding, the folks at Ford were nice enough to invite us along last spring when they introduced the new tricked-out 2015 Edge, and they included a brief overview of the Ford licensing program for retail in the package. Have you checked out the Ford merch store lately? We’re thinking that aside from dealerships, some of those Ford fans out there will want to get their hands around a Ford-branded micro wind turbine.

For that matter, given the growing popularity of micro wind turbines at sports venues, team-branded micro wind turbines for sporting goods stores could be next on the horizon.

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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.



  • lbustin@verizon.net

    It’s more of a message from Ford saying “We are green.” All you people interested in the environment, buy from us.

    • jeffhre

      I look at it as…Look we’ve got a big wind turbine out front to catch your attention. Come take a look.

  • Grim Bro

    Once upon a time:there was a world of two kinds of people. The silly people who allowed the smart,wiley people to snow them with alot of bunk. They thought the world was in serious danger from pollution and would destroy itself or wear out and that this was the whole and complete problem which they the sillies would cure by listening to the wileys who would teach them to build “clean” power stations. They forgot the age old wisdom of their teachers in High school who taught them of the fallacies of free energy TANSTAAFL. Also they neglected to think of how things might have been had they allowed GOD into their nation and given him a call now and again to ask how they were doing “down here” none of the problems would have happened but the sillies were too “smart” to believe in GOD or they just didn’t think that he was interested…wake up people this isn’t a bedtime story that you awaken to a wonderful new world from. It gets worse, not better. Thank you in advance for your textual criticism but I only wanted to make you think “outside the “silly” box…..yes and thanks for the silly comments as well…go home and gather your families around you and ask God how you are doing thank him for your lives and ask him what you can do for him for a change..then remember this: Ford has never had a better idea about anything that really mattered.

  • RogerZimmeman

    20,000 kWhr per year will only net about $2000 in revenue for each system and $8000 for all four systems. To spend $750,000 for this is a stupid use of their shareholder’s money. Large scale wind and solar projects can be very profitable. As a sign they are ugly.

  • macnicol

    It always amazes me how easily some people are hood winked by anything that claims to be “green” or “renewable” energy.

    From a systems engineering total systems analysis perspective, wind turbines are not net energy productive. Besides they kill millions of birds world wide every year. If some corporation was polluting the air and killing millions of birds every year, the environmentalists would be screaming for their heads! Why are they silent about wind turbines?

    Also, it can be shown that there is a correlation between the increase in the number of wind turbines and the change in the weather patterns in the US. Storms are stagnating over areas where there are large numbers of turbines causing tornadoes and flooding in some areas and drought in others. Wind turbines remove energy from the atmosphere which then slows down the movement and changes the weather patterns. Where are the climate change experts when there is a clear impact on the climate from this man-made technology?

    Also for those who are upset by corporations moving out of the US for legal tax advantages, why aren’t you upset with the billions of $$ being sent to China for the wind turbine machinery and solar power panels?

    I don’t see anyone out demonstrating and marching in the streets now that gasoline and oil prices have fallen. This country was built on the “original” renewable energy: wood, coal, oil, & natural gas. Yes, renewable. These energy sources were not part of the “creation” of the earth, they came from the accumulation of vegetable and animal matter over millions of years. They will be replenished over the next few millions of years without any assistance from the “greenies”.

    If you want efficient power with minimum environmental impact, then demand the US invest in nuclear and fusion power generation. It has the lowest environmental footprint impact when properly engineered and managed.

  • captaindandan

    here’s the scoop: WASHINGTON d.c. and SACRAMENTO, CA have the biggest liars, blabbermouths and hot air blowers ….put a freakin’ micro wind turbine in front of each of those “LAWMAKERS” and watch the current, amps, watts, and volts go up and up. Sick to death of the disgraceful way we ‘legislate’ –our elderly uncle can’t even register is 1976 Oldsmobile anymore (CA) because it’s a gross polluter ….now where does an 80 year old man go to find SMOG/EMISSION parts for a car that’s almost 40 years old.? HUH? How about cutting back on the years. Right now it is 1975 and older. Can the CARB C U Next Thursday S give us a break???

  • Chudleigh

    This design and concept has been done for decades in third-world countries by cutting a 55 Gal drum in half and offsetting the halves on a 4X4 sheet of plywood driving a vehicle generator by pulley. It takes the wind direction out of the equation. I’ve made scores of these while working with the Peace Corp. As far as I know, all are still in use and generating electricity a quarter century later.

  • Joe Smithy

    Not worth the money. But, it DOES get the science challenged to feel warm & fuzzy about Ford. LOL

  • Paul Guerrero

    My question is how much money did Ford get from the tax payers for this advertising bill board and label it as green energy?
    Win win situation for Ford!

  • JimB37

    This is in no more than a deceptive publicity stunt on the part of Ford to try to convince the public that they are truly interested in developing worthwhile renewble energy sources. That money would be much better spent on developing viable energy sources for the public, rather than just to promote their corporate name.

  • paperpushermj

    At least Ford is using their Own Money, for that a Thumbs Up

  • Convention of States

    The environmental community and the government will regulate this program to death. The environmentalists will want to save the birds and the Feds will call it a wind farm.

  • california joe

    A lot of discussion about whether Ford should do this advertising campaign or not.

    Cost of a billboard can be $2,500/month.
    Cost of 4 billboards might be $10,000 month.
    Given an upfront cost of the wind-generators-billboards of $750,000, that is similar to the cost of 4 old fashioned billboards for 6.25 years, not counting any possible offset due to electricity generated.
    Ford, and other advertisers, after reviewing this campaign in the future, can make a decision as to whether of not it is cost effective. Speaking only for myself, I hope this sort of initiative is not only cost effective, but leads to other programs that are even better.

  • ConsultantInAction

    Ford can certainly do better, Mulally did a great job while he was there, I’m certain their awareness in keen on staying in the environmental awareness circles. Look for more from FORD……
    Bob Wallace, why don’t you make suggestions directly to FORD….They do take the suggestions serious… Mulally implemented programs for suggestions…..
    MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL and a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!
    GOD BLESS AMERICA

  • normy

    While the Ford “wind turbine” will provide some good PR, the stated cost for 4 sites just for wind turbines is nearly $200,000 PER TURBINE! They’re only rated at 5 kW, if they’d put that into more solar panels they’d get probably 10 times that or more. . A car dealer can put up a lot of covered parking shades with solar panels on top out on the lot, in addition to panels on the roof. You KNOW that someone will complain about a 70 foot tall sign.

    • jeffhre

      They are putting in 7KW of PV with each sign/turbine. Or turbine/sign. Whiver you feel is more appro…

  • Super

    That’s a 42year break even?

  • ConsultantInAction

    After reading all the Post, I’m Wowed by all the Smack…. All good, but then, the criticism of FORD is pretty much on Point.
    If you are going to through all the effort to bring an Environmental Win Win for all to see. Especially one that will also benefit your Advertising Goals while Diminishing the Carbon Foot Print. Now, that would be something. Then, why not produce a Wind Turbine that would be capable of so much more? The Technology’s certainly available now to do that right now. So how about it FORD, do you really want to do something for the Environment? Then, Step up to the Plate, let’s produce real Energy and really make a difference.
    How about FORD putting a program that will produce enough Electricity to pay for all the Low Income Households our Major Urban Centers. A program that will take away from the COAL Fired Power Plants; Now that would be something.
    Let’s hear it, more is better, especially when we can produce Affordable Renewable Energy while cutting the cost for all of AMERICA.
    If it works here, it will work World Wide….Clean Air, Clean Water, and yes, Clean Lungs…..Now, this would be a Win Win…..

    • Bob_Wallace

      Invest in some real wind turbines.

      Put a display in the dealerships that shows the turbines in action and the amount of electricity they’ve produced to date. Show the percentage of total electricity Ford is getting from clean sources.

  • bobj

    Obviously this article is a bust. Only 67 comments have been written so far. So delete this story and let’s go back to our cave man mentality. Wind, solar and hydrogen are not good for the human race.

    Where do these naysayers come from? Why do they use computers, which run off of electricity? There’s a word for peoples that dislike new technologies. Luddites?
    Who let them in. They are not in charge.
    You can’t control the future.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I really don’t understand your comment.

      There’s no “dislike of new technology” discussion here. It boils down to things that work and things that don’t work.

      Who are your naysayers and luddites, the people think these turbines don’t make sense or the people who think they should be installed even if they don’t make sense?

  • skywryter

    Why don’t we put actual turbines inside hybrid/electric car grills to charge batteries while at freeway speed? This way we can extend their range and have that super jet age look from the 50’s back. Tail fins included, of course.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Physics has a law against doing that.

      Generators are not 100% efficient. Adding a turbine/generator would increase the amount of energy it takes to move the car forward (more air resistance). Only part of that energy would be returned to the car for use. Some of the energy would be lost to friction (heat).

      You can’t get more energy out of a system than you put in.

  • I am the king

    it’s really to recover energy by catching all that hot air coming from the sales people.

  • John Debay

    and you can keep your doctor and save $ 2500 per family………………I keep going to my mailbox and no check for $ 2500…………..promises promises

  • Sam

    Ford should consider adding these to its cars. And covert the wind into electric power that can be used to drive the car and add the excess to the battery. Cars take a lot of head winds that could be collected and funneled through turbines.

    • Bob_Wallace

      They could call it the Unicorn….

  • Randal Colling

    The question is, are these thing environmentaly freindly? As we know, WINDMILLS are decimating avion populations. If these turbins can produce energy, act as a sign, but not kill falcons or other birds, heck, go for it !

  • Santa Claus

    So they made a mistake. Would you want to admit to it?

  • (From the article) “According to Ford, each Windy System can deliver about 20,000
    kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, which is enough to charge a Ford Focus Electric 870 times.”

    (Also from the article) “It’s also worth noting that, despite some naysayers in the wind industry, the US Department of Energy is anticipating that micro wind turbines will play a role in the future energy landscape.”

    That’s everything, and everything else is nothing.

    > With zero carbon cost, a Ford Focus Electric can be charged 870 times, annually.
    > The U.S. DoE says that micro wind will play a role in the future.
    > The cost of approx. $200,000. per dealership is not going to be paid by you, nor anyone you know.
    >If you buy a Ford in the next 10 years, you might, and I stress the words ‘you might’ be paying 1 cent as your contribution towards this renewable energy capacity.
    >So Ford spent some of their multi-million dollar annual PR budget on 4 wind turbines — instead of TV ads. Good for them!

    Thanks for covering this for us, Tina.
    Cheers, JBS

  • dm80

    They should mount solar panels on the 50 foot pole supporting the turbine sign. That might enhance the life cycle benefits of the sign.

  • jeffhre

    “and we are already convinced this is just the first tiny ripple in a massive wave of wind energy installations at Ford locations.”

    Sad if this turns out to be the massive wave (of four stores) that represents the end of the tiny ripple that denotes this Ford initiative.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Perhaps someone at Ford was deeply into the Ripple when this decision was made…

      • Bob_Wallace

        Whoa! Showing my age. They haven’t made Ripple in years. They quit making Molly Pitcher Red which was our go-to cheap buzz.

        Next I’ll probably learn that a lid doesn’t have to be cleaned to get rid of seeds and stems….

        • jeffhre

          Would be sad to see them lost in a bottle of Thunderbird after losing fine job like this. Sloughed off by the ripple effects of a failed program. Well it’s probably inevitable if someone who should know better goes head over heels shooting their mouth off like a big mouth mickey over a marginal program.

  • Very nice article per usual, Tina. Thanks. Would love to see an update article on The Eagles (and sports in general) going green. Did the Eagles follow through on their plans?

    • Steve A-Reno

      It is important to note that the Philadelphia Eagles DID finally put up wind turbines, but not the ones mentioned in this article. They installed a much better UGE- Urban Green Energy model- 7 on each side of the end zone- see attached picture. They are working great and supplying 100% of the stadium’s energy needs on non-game days. So that means their meters are running backwards on those days and creating credits that can offset the large energy use on game days.

      • Thanks much Steve A-Reno. The answer plus pictures. Cool.

  • Ronald Brakels

    I would like to see a little wind turbine that would usefully and economically compliment an off-grid PV plus batteries system in windy locations. We’re not there yet and the declining cost of both PV and batteries makes it a rather Herculean task, but it’s not necessarily impossible, just unlikely. Maybe this little investment by Ford will make my dream just a tiny bit more possible. Of course, yes, I would have preferred it if they had spent the money on large scale wind turbines or point of use solar instead, but if we’re going there I have to admit that I would prefer it if they gave all the money directly to me. (I’m running short of ebola cash.)

    • Bob_Wallace

      There are some wind turbines that work fine in windy places. They aren’t price competitive with large wind turbines, but they are cheap enough for some off the grid applications.

      Then there are these little whacko turbines that appear with some regularity. Lots of hype. No convincing performance data.

      • Ronald Brakels

        Yeah, no one’s using them here. Or at least almost no one. Part of it is a reliability issue, If it stops working out the back of the black stump who’s going to fix it?

        • jeffhre

          Who would care, saves the trip from a repair truck – not to fix it!

          • Ronald Brakels

            Well, the people who bought it might care. There are people in central Australia, just not so many as by the coasts where there’s enough rain for plants to take on that really weird green colour.

          • jeffhre

            If there is enough sun for the plants to do that, the the 7KW of PV included with the sign/turbine project would potentially be helpful.

      • jeffhre

        7KW of PV with a spinning sign. Big deal. I don’t see it as green washing or an initiative that will save the world, meh

    • Offgridman

      I have been very pleased with the performance of my Whisper 2000 (2 Kw) from Southwest Wind Power for the past eight years, it starts production with just 7 mph winds and reaches peak at 12, so was going to suggest that you check them out.
      But a Google search shows that the company shut down last year, and though still available from various suppliers on eBay, it is at a cost of more than double of what I payed back then.
      Why this has happened is not clear as the majority of reviews from customers worldwide is very positive, as is mine. It has been brought down once per year (this past spring) to check lubrication and connections, which I can do by myself with the help of the tractor, and still doesn’t show any signs of wear.
      I see that there are similar models available (WindX and etc) through Alibaba at better prices, perhaps you could find something there to suit what you are looking for.

      • Ronald Brakels

        I’m glad the Whisper works well for you, but mini-wind doesn’t seem to be getting a look in here. Things are rather PV centric in this neck of the planet, but I guess as far as the combination of high sun and low point of use solar costs goes we may be ahead of any other country.

        • Offgridman

          I am fortunate due to my location, because the hundred foot tower on top of a hill, means no obstructions for miles. But the PV way out performs it for eight months of the year. For November through February here in the northern hemisphere it means not having to run the backup generator though.
          The prices really just amazed me, I got turbine, controller, and tower kit for three grand, now they are asking 2500-3500$ for just the turbine.

          • Carl Borrowman

            I’m guessing there is more demand than when you bought it eight years ago, so they’ve upped the prices.

          • Offgridman

            Maybe so on the demand, even back when ordering mine there was a 2 or 3 month wait after ordering before delivery to the supply company we went through.
            My thought was that economies of scale, or the ongoing reductions in cost that have been mentioned with commercial turbines might have helped to counter balance any inflation since that time. That definitely got proven wrong. 🙂
            This won’t apply to everyone, and not even all of those that are offgrid or thinking of heading that way. However even if you are in an area that is mapped as being low wind resources (as mine is) it can still be worthwhile considering a turbine in combination with your solar. The costs /Kwh might seem to be high as compared with the solar, but the way they counter balance from day to night and seasonally saves a lot of hassle in rationing your energy use and the costs and time of using a fuel generator.
            One last suggestion for anyone thinking about getting a turbine. You don’t need to get a wind speed meter and go through getting it up on a tower to find out your wind resources. There are instructions on the web for figuring out the height of the tallest trees at your site. Then by monitoring how much the tops flex according to what kind they are you can get a close estimate of just how fast your prevailing breezes are moving at different times of the day and year.

  • TinaCasey

    As always thank you guys all for a very lively discussion. I guess I could have made the point a little more forcefully up front, but those of you who read through the whole post probably noticed the part toward the end about how you’re not going to get the scale efficiencies from micro wind that you would get at the tall-tower, utility grade level. Extras like visibility and branding make micro wind a reasonable investment for a commercial enterprise. As for greenwashing, I’ll get around to that whenever Koch Industries gets around to decorating the top of its corporate hq with micro wind turbines.

    • Mark C

      This might have been a good article if had been written as a what-not-to-do-piece. I’m stunned that this site (you) could actually try to pass this off as a good thing, in any way.

      “Advantages…” The only advantage you mentioned is that they can be used as marketing tools.

      #bobinmarketing
      I know, lets put up a really nifty wind turbine at the dealerships, one where we can put our logo on it. Let our potential customers know just how green we are.

      #joeinmarketing
      But they don’t really produce much energy, and they require a lot of maintenance, and, well, they aren’t really very “green”.

      #bobinmarketing
      Well, thats OK. Just so long as our customers can see our sign spinning and they think we’re “green”.

      #bobinmarketing
      I know get that girl from the cleantechnica site on the line, she’ll sell it for us.

      • Dragon

        From everything I’ve read, “green” is a very small reason for anyone to do anything (sadly), and car buying or other large purchases are last on the list of things where green has a significant influence on the decision. For the few of us where green is a major component of a decision, we’ll almost certainly be knowledgable enough to know that this form of turbine is not very green, so Ford gets no credit from the people that green matters to. For everyone else, do you really think anyone is going to be thinking “hmm, what car should I buy… That Ford dealership over there looks pretty green with those new wind turbines, maybe I’ll go there…”?

      • Carl Borrowman

        “The only advantage you mentioned is that they can be used as marketing tools.”

        Making marketing tools produce energy instead of only using it is a pretty nice advantage.

      • jeffhre

        7 KW of PV with spinning sign is what not to do. Check, got it – anything else?

    • harisA

      I do not know what is all the fuss. If someone wants to generate 1 watt of clean energy for a million dollar they should do it and feel good about it.

      Green washing implies net positive carbon emission.

      • Hans

        If someone wants to generate 1 watt of clean energy for a million dollar they should feel ashamed of not putting that money to better use.

        • harisA

          We are going off topic here:-)

          Efficient use of resources is not are object of discourse here.

          • Hans

            ???
            Clean tech is all about efficient use of resources.

          • StopTrollingStartDoing

            In addition to being a nanny-state entity that tells people the best way to spend their money, and how they should feel while doing it? That’s what you just did in the initial above comment. Perhaps you should feel ashamed for wasting precious time and energy to type and post it, considering your apparent disdain for wasters.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Do I smell Tea in the house?

        • jeffhre

          What? Did the 7KW of PV just suddenly disappear here?

    • jeffhre

      You could add that you will not get the non-scaled-efficiencies with micro wind vertical turbines that you would get with the swept area of a little propeller also.

  • GottaFindSomethingWrong

    WTF dude, does it really matter how much energy it generates? Freakin corporate America is beginning to embrace clean energy tech, and your pissing and moaning about weather or not it produces the maximum amount of watts? Did it cost you anything? Is it any worse to look at than a street sign, ignoring the evident damage it does to your keen efficiency standards?

    Possibly more to the point is the fact that you can be “Built Ford Tough” and still(/should?) be a little concerned about the environment you and your family live in.

    If they put up a propeller design would you cry foul for bats and fowl?

    Craps sake, and I thought that I was a cynic. I can’t believe Bob Wallace didn’t already offer you a smack-down on this in his special way 🙂

    • Bob_Wallace

      That’s because Bob Wallace agrees with the people who think this a dumb move by Ford.

      It’s wasted money. Greenwashing.

      Ford would have been much better off buying into a wind farm and putting up a few cheap “spinners” along with pictures of where they are getting their electricity.

      For those who know about wind energy this is a sign that Ford put up that says “We stupid”.

      (That the sort of smack you had in mind? ;o)

      • Omega Centauri

        They probably figure there are ten times as many people who don’t take an engineers analytical approach as do, and think it just looks cool, and is ohh so green.

      • Dragon

        I dunno… For those in the know, it may look like a waste of money. But for the majority of Ford lovers or casual passers by, something so visible may make them think more kindly about renewable energy devices or even about installing some for themselves. Ford and other big companies will inevitably install PV because it saves money, but it often ends up high on a flat roof where people can’t see it. If Ford wants to waste some money on a combination sign and less-efficient renewable power source, it seems like that will only help the renewable movement.

        • jeffhre

          It’s six stories up in the air, and just one more example of a ribbon, streamer, banner or balloon on the dealers lots. Maybe it will help to pay for the embeded energy costs of manufacturing and installing it. Since every store wants another sign anyway, would this even be allowed by many zoning entities.

      • jeffhre

        I don’t consider it greenwashing. Greenwashing would be something that people notice enough to have a greater perceptual impact than a sustainability or environmental impact. The turbine doesn’t change the meter on either side, LOL. But adding the PV gives me mixed feelings about the impacts of the overall attempt.

        And yes the spinning sign is just window dressing. Only it’s window dressing with so little impact that it can only be detected if it grows the top line. And it’s way too small an initiative to have an effect there so, Meh.

      • Pat Campbell

        A giant mobile would work as well for advertising and take less maintenance. I’m basically with Bob.

        • jeffhre

          A giant mobile would never pay back it’s embedded energy costs for production/installation.

      • Level Minded

        Well I don’t know Bob Wallace and his infamous smack downs but this is a rediculous post. Any start to corporate America even showing publicity for wind energy, however efficient is a plus. It’s a sign of the consumer wanting it. In case you don’t know, for better or worse, definitely worse, corporations dthings for the bottom line so the beginning of their desire to even appear as conservationaliats is a plus and this is indeed that. Sure it would be nice if they took your advice and plugged into real energy savings but this is good on many levels. Not the least of which is the CNN and Fox articles alerting the public to it so the good people here, including Bob Wallace, aren’t the only ones discussin it, here in the bubble that is cleartechnica.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Hello, Mr. Minded. Let me introduce myself. I’m Bob Wallace, please call me Bob.

          Now, I understand your point about awareness is good. But Ford is not some tiny mom and pop business that doesn’t have the ability to determine that what they are doing with wind turbines is only greenwashing.

          Then, “this bubble that is Cleantechnica” is a place where we publish news about and discuss renewable energy and efficiency ideas that work. We tend to not hand out gold stars for making a small, insincere effort.

          • Carl Borrowman

            The bottom line here seems to be a wind turbine/solar panel sign is more energy efficient than an a sign that just uses electricity. Maybe it is only a small positive impact, but it is one more brought into the world in place of a negative one.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Come on Carl – stretch, stretch, stretch, keep on stretching.

            Perhaps you can make a sweater out of a sock.

          • Carl Borrowman

            How is saying this has a small positive impact a “stretch”?

          • Bob_Wallace

            If you’d followed the conversation you would know that the criticism is money poorly spent. If the idea is to produce electricity.

            If the idea was to put whirly things on their signs in order to catch eyes it was also a poor use of money.

            The question sort of boils down to “Is Ford stupid or do they think their customers are stupid?”.

          • Carl Borrowman

            I’m not questioning that this could be money better spent elsewhere.

            Dogfood advertising funds that total in the tens of millions per year could be better spent elsewhere.

            That’s not the point. The point is this is still a net positive energy producing marketing product vs. merely a net negative energy consumptive marketing product.

          • jeffhre

            The point of advertising is sales. Folks don’t care if the sign uses energy or sustains it’s own energy needs as long as it gets attention. I would consider it a net positive, if they choose the one which sustains it’s own energy needs.

          • JB

            Let’s not overlook that Ford is researching and experimenting with being more efficient. I would be EXTREMELY surprised to hear that Ford is expanding their marketing budget, unless you have internal access to their budgets, for all we know this could be in response to reduced one.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I don’t know what that has to do with small VAWTs being an expensive way to generate electricity.

          • JB

            Not sure either.

          • jeffhre

            They could well turn out to be a less energy expensive (and hence money saving) way to make signs. And a way to remind people to be energy mindful – ultimately another way of marketing RE.

            How much energy is Toyota’s latest sign design creating? And nobody’s getting BS’d by this unless they run out and write a blank check to put in a micro turbine without reading the specs…

          • Burnerjack

            Ford is the one American automobile manufacturer that did NOT take the Bail Out cash. I wouldn’t be too concerned how Ford spends their money. If I were a major shareholder, maybe, but I’m not.

          • Burnerjack

            All is true, indeed. However, it does lend a visceral, visual reminder that RE is all around us, maybe in a very small way helping to diminish the “RE is for dreamers, never to be mainstream” mindset. Yes I did say “in a very small way”. Sure they could have put those Air Dancers or windsurfer wings with signs but then they couldn’t entice the public into thinking they’re thinking green. Cynical, maybe but PR is PR.

        • jeffhre

          I agree. Though I have to add, a well stocked, horse drawn cart, with briskly selling bottles of snake oil, is also indicative that there is a demand by the public.

        • jeffhre

          This however ultimately has very little to do with, and will result in little wind energy produced, from what is essentially designed as a spinning sign. However it does include 7KW of PV in the package 🙂

    • Hans

      There is research that shows that small wind in the built environment does not even generate enough power to compensate its own production, so there is a nett loss for the environment.

      You could of course say: “let’s make a life cycle analysis of a similar advertisement object without electricity generation and compare the results with an LCA of this wind turbinette”. My first guess is that they would end up close together.

      But this is not really the point. As Bob already wrote, this is just greenwashing. If Ford would be interested in climate change it would work harder to make their cars more efficient.

      • Carl Borrowman

        Isn’t the fact that Ford is selling more EV’s, hybrids, and more fuel efficient ICEV’s in their own lineup evidence they have been working harder to make their cars more efficient?

    • jeffhre

      Well the good news is that they are projected to be 55 to 60 feet tell. So that in some locations the turbines have the possibility of being exposed to the six MPH cut in wind speed. At least at the very top of the turbines. On some occasions. If the dealers install them to specs. And zoning allows that height.

      Not sure who will bother to be looking up at a sign that is printed on a banner that makes it partially unviewable due to it’s spinning around a pole six stories high up in the air though.

    • Joe1938

      Another vitriolic, foul mouth, name calling leftwingnut proves that the following can not be posted too many times…
      From an expert; Liberals are clinically mad, concludes top psychiatrist Dr. Lyle Rossiter. Doctor Rossiter makes case that leftist ideology is a mental disorder.

    • Paul Bell

      It matters how much energy it generates if you are trying to “save the planet” or whatever. More energy expended in manufacture and installation than will ever be produced. Wasted resources.

    • JB

      Don’t forget it would add jobs too… Just saying. I think our buddy got cut off on the freeway this morning, of which I’m glad he took it all out on here rather than on his dog or wife…

      • Bob_Wallace

        You’re missing the point, JB.

        There are places where the money would be better spent.

        Small turbines, especially mounted close to the ground, are inefficient.

        • JB

          I’m not convinced yet I am. I get your technical expertise and I respect that. However, I am a sales and marketing guru. It’s how I have survived for more than 15 years and keep in mind a good portion of that was in a recession!
          I get it, it doesn’t work well and it will probably eventually be laughable if it does not go the way of the PC. I get that if they took that money and invested it in green tech companies that dollar could go further. However you never know what direct or indirect impact this could have.
          Don’t underestimate Ford, they have marketing budgets and I GREATLY doubt they expanded their budget just for this. However, if they are able to produce a greater value and exposure for their marketing dollar and produce a little energy, sends a far greater public message than a billboard leaving a carbon footprint. Plus wouldn’t you rather have Ford working with companies that are at least trying to solve the energy proglem than others who just make it worse? There are a lot of business owners out there that deny climate change and support politicians who do too.
          Also, keep in mind we are talking about the general public, not engineers. This will draw far more attention locally than it would if Ford made a large donation, built a windfarm miles a way, or sponsored an event. This will be hard to not notice, meanwhile I tune out some 20-30 billboards on my daily commute. And most of the general public would be more interested in what the Kardashians are doing than news on Ford
          Ford deserves a little more credit than you are giving them. They are an industry leader, a proud American company, and history has proven Ford rarely makes dumb decisions. Nobody is immune to stupidity, however Ford is a brilliant company, has proved to be very innovative, and are able to make tough decsions. They are forward thinking and at one time (and this may still be true today) they had a greater MPG average amongst their fleet of vehicles and more green options than Honda. They also, survived the worst recession in history WITHOUT taking a bailout.
          Can you tell I drive a Ford? Lol, I am passionately optimistic and you could imagine how easily I could clash with an overwhelmingly negative post. Encourage don’t discourage.

          • Bob_Wallace

            If you’re trying to appeal to “greenies” then you better anticipate many of them knowing more about wind technology than your average car purchaser.

          • JB

            Look I get it man, let’s not rally around something mediocre when there are far greater innovations to be excited about. But it’s much greater than simply appealing to one demographic or being the best of the best. I consider myself an average consumer that when given the opportunity, leans green. Would you honestly walk right past a Ford dealer because they didn’t properly appeal to the “greenies” and right into a Chrysler dealer? Awarding them the business for sticking with the traditional wasteful way? I wouldn’t.
            I’ve never actually heard the official definition of “greenies” if there is one, however I know most people consider themselves green just by recycling. While that still may ring true that, “greenies” are at a higher level of awareness than an average car buyer. I don’t sincerely don’t think that the gap is large enough to even mention. If you aren’t just disagreeing with me for the obsessive nature of arguing for the challenge, so be it.
            I think you can at least agree that generally speaking people are short minded with a short memory. There is an all out war against “green” tech and at a time when gas rates are dropping faster than a rock, we’d be wise to keep anything green in the spotlight. How long do you think gas prices would have to be below $3 per gallon before people stop caring? Not long, just look at how many people think that after the recent rains the drought is over in California.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I get it too, man.

            If Ford wants to bullshit me with phony renewable greenwashing that takes them down a big notch with me.

    • Dj

      ^^^ Dumbest post in the history of the internet…

      Who cares how much damage the product does to the environment… as long as it makes me feeeelllll gooood.

  • Joseph Dubeau

    I would paint it red and white. Hang some LED Christmas lights on it. 🙂

    • Bob_Wallace

      Paste on some turkey feathers….

      • Joseph Dubeau

        You know that’s a good idea – Black Friday Sale.

  • andereandre

    Sigh.

  • spec9

    Meh. This is greenwashing but I guess it doesn’t hurt. Small wind is generally not very efficient . . . especially vertical axis ones. Do PV solar and big wind instead.

    • Jenny Sommer

      The 7kw PV array is the good part…the Savonius rotor is a pretty animated sign though 😉

  • ADW

    Its as if Tina has yet to read any of the posting on this very site made by Mike Barnard. At least take some time to go read up what Paul Gipe has to say, he is a leading expert in wind.

    These small wind devices are pretty to look at, but provide no real usable energy. For the price, Ford would be much better served building PV parking stations at each dealership, or at least placing PV on the expansive roofs of the dealerships.

    • Adrian

      If you read the full piece, you’ll note system includes a 7 kW PV array.

      • ADW

        I did read the full piece which is why my statement of “Ford would be better served building….” Any $$$ spent on these “wind turbines” is a waste of money for Ford. They are window decorations and poor ones at that. The article should have spent more time discussing the pros of the PV array and not the wind device.

        • jeffhre

          So you think it will be a long time until the stakeholders involved get paid back for the investment! When was the last time that window dressing, or any particular type of signage, paid back anything of the embedded energy invested within it?

          • John Ihle

            They’ll likely never get their investment back as most small wind turbines are racked with design and subsequent o&m issues. There are a few exceptions, for example Bergey, who has been around for 30 plus years and has a track record. There are much better ways to green your image as well as make much smarter economic investments.

          • jeffhre

            I agree completely. The only thing I differ with is that a Bergey is not a sign.

    • Kevin McKinney

      Um, this unit apparently does include PV–in fact, it’s more PV than wind, measuring by pure capacity numbers: “…[the] proprietary integrated system that includes a 5.5 kilowatt wind energy generator and a 7.0 kilowatt solar panel array (available as rooftop or ground mounted), all coordinated with smart electrical and control systems.”

  • Hans

    We have been over this many times before:
    Don’t believe the dubious claims of small wonder weapon wind turbines. Wind in the built environment makes no sense. Windspeeds are too low, and the wind is too turbulent.

    The image shows a twisted Savonius turbine. This design is very inefficient, because always one halve of the blades is moving against the wind. This type has been tried many times times before, and did not deliver the goods.

    • MarTams

      You missed the MAIN point! I don’t disagree that the design is inefficient in terms of energy generated per cost of material and so will not pay for itself in terms of value of energy generated.

      The main purpose is PR and advertisement! Large surface area is good for advertisement and is the major purpose of the gimmick. The motion catches attention too. Any power generated is good PR.

      • Matt

        Also they are not good sign. cost to much for amount of usable space. And can read when turning.

      • Omega Centauri

        Its a pretty pricy sign, almost $200,0000. Imagine how many PV panels they could have bought for that! Better would be PV carport panels for the cars in the parking lot. Customers would be able to get into a show vehicle that isn’t hot from being in the sun. This costs more than PV on the roof, but it is more visable, if showing off greenness is the motivation.

        • solarone

          It’s all about the PR, not the energy. This is a giant spinning billboard, the energy generated is not that impressive.

          Let’s see: $750000/4=$187,500 for one installation.
          The energy returned is 20,000 kWhr/year
          What if I just used that money for solar installed at $3/W?
          $187,500/$3/W=62,500W=62kW solar installed.
          My roof produces 1.9kWh/W/yr (Albuquerque=nice sunny location)
          So if I installed that amount of solar where I live, I would then generate 62,500W x 1.9kwh/W/yr = 119,000 kWh/yr. That is 6x the energy generated by the giant revolving billboard (+solar).
          Even if I did the same thing in Northern Germany where you get ~1.0kWh/W/yr I would still generate 63,000 kWh/yr, 3x better.

          • Randal Colling

            Solar is killing thousands of birds all over the world. It can “cook” them right out of the air. A terrible blow to the environment.

    • harisA

      California dealerships will make around $2400 (@US$0.12/KW commercial rate) per year and get a 30% tax credit on the installation price.

      Some people (including me) find vertical turbine mesmerizing so it will draw customers in 🙂

    • JB

      Grumble…. grumble… grumble… It effectively kills two birds with one stone. What’s better for the environment a billboard or one that produces power?

      At one time, in order to generate the computing power of a single smart phone, you would have needed to rent out easily 1000 sf or more of space just to have a computer. That was 1982, and during those years people made the same claims you did because of how much space you needed just to create a digital black and green screened inventory.

      You have to know this, so why be so short sighted as to blast or discourage any innovation that could effectively work towards energy independence? Yes there’s always a better way, however innovation does not prevail with a closed mind, “Wind in the built environment makes no sense.” Makes no sense??? Have you ever stood on the rooftop of a skyscraper and tried to read a newspaper or map? How about a 5 story building? Good luck. I’ve never stood on top of any building and been absent of a constant breeze. How about next to a freeway that is congested nearly 24 hours a day?

      We waste tons of energy daily, it’s time we start capturing as much of it as we can. The more options we have, the more likely we will be able to survive and prevail.

    • Burnerjack

      While one ‘wing’ is facing the windward side, the other is facing the leeward side pulling a low pressure ‘lift’. The true inefficiency compared to horizontal axis turbines is related to tip speed ratio. This is well documented ad nausium. You are correct in noting the inefficiency comparison though. The Vertical axis ‘egg beater’ design is much more efficient, however, due to the gradual transition the helical leading edge presents, this design is very quiet.
      This may be why the Savonius design was chosen. Sometimes final output is not the only design factor. Just sayin’.

    • windyman1

      Spot-on. A Savonius turbine, be it twisted or otherwise, is a self-limiting device that is only effective at doing limited mechanical work, certainly not generating electricity. And you are also correct that using wind energy in the built environment is, pretty-much, a non starter for the reasons you give.
      The Ford effort shows an amazing amount of ignorance – probably on the part of the marketing department – that ignores the technical limitations inherent in their choices, or brilliance in the blatant pandering to the ignorance of their customers. As a matter of fact, this is the very kind of thing that has made life in the small wind field such an exercise in futility for those of us who’ve been hacking away at it for any length of time. I’ve been doing just that for > 30 years, but the goal seems to always be just a bit farther away than it was when you started. There ARE effective small WECS on the market, but NONE of them have a vertical-axis and none are mounted on towers < 60' above the effective ground level.

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