When it Comes to Wind – Smaller is Better?

When it comes to relying on wind power, for most of us that means at best buying “green electrons” from our local utility, or if we happen to live in San Francisco, perhaps getting part of our electricity from the new 150 MW Rio Vista wind farm, built by PPM, which had its inauguration this week. See details in article on it at Inside Greentech.

But a few companies do actually make small “mini” or “micro” wind turbines for residential and remote markets (not that many of our local building codes and zoning restrictions would let us put one up).

Southwest Windpower makes the Skystream 3.7, which was recently awarded “2006 Best of What’s New Award from Popular Science in the Home category”, according to the company. They claim to have more than 90,000 turbines in field, and you can get one by calling up one of the dealers.

And a new company, Mariah Power, is looking to move on the scene, with a vertical axis “Savonius” style turbine they call the “cyclo”, a design for which they claim they have solved the efficiency challenges. While not on the market yet, you can pre-order if you’d like. Just in case you missed the allusion, it’s named after the Broadway song from Paint Your Wagon, “They Call the Wind Maria[h]”, also done by the Kingston Trio, lyrics here in case you are interested.

Other mini wind turbine providers include a Finnish company, Windside, which builds your turbines just 400 km south of the Arctic circle, and Windsave, and Renewable Devices with their “Swfit” turbine, both in the U.K.

Not yet setting the world on fire like rooftop PV solar products, but I’d certainly like one on my roof.

This article was first printed in Green-thinkers.org by Neal Dikeman, Partner, Jane Capital Partners LLC, and Founding Contributor, Cleantechblog.com, and Contributing Editor, AltEnergyStocks.com.

4 replies
  1. JamesC
    JamesC says:

    In fact there are plenty of small wind turbine manufacturers out there, both vertical and horizontal axis. A list of vertical axis turbines can be found at :http://www.ecobusinesslinks.com/vertical_axis_wind_turbines.htm It lists 19 manufacturers.There are of course a lot more horizontal axis ones. I know of at least 30 in the US alone.The real question is where will this industry go? Some, like the Swift, WindSave and even Quiet Revolution are yet to produce turbines in any real volumes, even though they have been around for quite some time.Others like South West Wind are starting to act like real corporates (in the best sense of the word) and divorce themselves form the uniqueness of their product to concentrate on selling volume.

  2. niels
    niels says:

    I do not think that small wind has much of a future. First there is very little energy in wind that is close to the ground.. e.g., on your roof. So rooftop turbines of any kind will never make very much power. Show me a small vertical axis turbine with certified metered kWh data. I have never seen such data.For standard turbines are simply so many limitations on it. For example the site needs good wind speed, an open area to site a tower of at least 100 feet (that is where the wind is), no airports in the area, someone willing to climb the tower regularly a few times a year, neighbors who do not mind too much… and if you go for a bit larger turbine three phase distribution line.Lastly small wind costs more than PV… and PV still has significant cost reduction potential. I would argue that wind does not. Meanwhile solar can be used wherever there is sunshine.Expect to see wind in wind farm and solar on roof tops.n

  3. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    I agree with neils. Very few areas have a reliable wind supply. For instance, I live very close to the ocean here in southern Maine. My Davis weather station has been collecting weather data, including wind for two years. What I have found is the wind is gusty and rapidly changes direction. This would certainly drive a traditional turbine to constant seek the wind. And I imagine the power degeneration would be negligible at best.

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