Most people think of massive wind farms when they think of wind power. But there’s a small revolution going on, and one that some people are, quite literally, screaming from the rooftops about.
One small wind technology recently appeared in Time Magazine’s list of Top 20 Green Tech Ideas. The company behind it is WindTronics, which has developed small turbine model of 6ft in diameter. It is called Honeywell Wind Turbine. Despite the small size, it can generate 1,500KW/h a year (or around 15% of a household’s energy needs), depending on wind strength in the period.
WindTronics‘ turbine contains no rotating gearbox to generate electricity, which makes it quieter. The blades are equipped with magnets at the tips and are enclosed in a wheel that contains coiled copper, which means that the entire turbine is an electric generator.
The Detroit News has an in-depth article about Ted Klein, an 84-year-old retiree in southeast Michigan, who bought one Honeywell unit. The article says the gearless turbine can generate electricity with wind speeds of 2 mph.
Klein seems to be happy with it. He says the wind turbine is very quiet and you can’t hear it turn even from the porch. Neighbors have not complained about it; they are just curious. It will take him years to recoup the money invested and intends to connect 12-volt batteries to his inverter to store energy to help him cope with power failures.
The 241-pound turbine is available to buy through energy dealers and some hardware shops (it costs $6,499.99 from Ace Hardware. Here you can get the non-grid tied smart box that goes with it). WindTronics expects to have at least 100 wind turbines in operation in Michigan by the end of the year.
WindTronics’ sales are benefiting from a federal tax credit worth of 30 per cent of the cost, including installation. The tax is available until the end of 2016.
Not everyone thinks small wind turbines are a good idea, though. The article also quotes Trudy Forsyth from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which considers the unit expensive for the small amount of electricity it generates.
She also highlights that her organization does not endorse rooftop turbines because when wind speed is reduced, turbulence is intensified. Besides, pieces could fall onto the ground, which is a cause for safety concerns.
What do you think? Do small wind turbines have a role to play in energy generation?
Watch WindTronics being featured on MSN’s Today:
Article by Antonio Pasolini, a Brazilian writer and video art curator based in London, UK. He holds a BA in journalism and an MA in film and television.