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Friday, June 27, 2008

One advantage developmental biologists have over paleontologists is that they can experiment on the development of these animals. Most of the genes in

I live in a very windy area. Pretty much every afternoon as I ride my bike home directly into the full-force wind, I wonder how I could set up some sort of sail system so that I don’t have to pedal as hard as possible only to go about 2 miles an hour. I also think about how I can be capturing all this wind so I can power my home. In other words, because of where I live, wind is on my mind a lot. So, over the weekend I was glad to read about the WINDPOWER 2008 conference. It was the first time I’d heard about the annual conference and tradeshow and it sounded like something I’d love to attend. Well, clearly not knowing about it in the first place made attending a little difficult, but luckily the folks at Clean Tech were there and posted some video and interesting info on vertical wind turbines.

Vertical turbines have a few one-ups on the traditional three-blade turbines for urban areas like where I live. They’re quieter, blend in with a rooftop more seamlessly, take up less space, can produce 50% more electricity per year, can produce energy at lower wind speeds, and are safer for wildlife such as birds and bats.

Considering the amount of thought going in to urban turbines, I’m curious as to why vertical turbines aren’t gaining more popularity. It seems like there are myriad ways to utilize them. For instance, many cities are installing solar panels on streetlamps to generate electricity to power the lamp…but not as many are combining solar and wind. Seems like the more logical thing to do since the odds of getting enough electricity go way up. “Gus” (shown in the above image) is a turbine from Tangarie, and it has been combined with solar for streetlamps. But, I suppose when you look at the price tag, my “why” question is answered – the package runs about $7,000 and that doesn’t include the cost of installation. “Gus” creators have thought about aesthetics, and have utilized a reflective coating to reduce glare. It’s the little things like this that will help turbines gain popularity as the aesthetics are boosted and innovation is amped up.

The video below shows a design from Energy in which light metal bands surround the turbine to give it a low start-up wind speed, which allows users with a less substantial wind resource to get at least a little power from local winds. With designs like these helping people even in soft breezy environments to utilize wind, I just can’t help but wonder why not more…

Apparently vertical wind turbines are expected to grow in popularity in urban settings, but I’m surprised that it hasn’t taken off more quickly. I know I’m already geared up for how to retrofit my house to be powered by some pretty rooftop vertical axis turbines!

Original here

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