Does the New Windspire Perform Better Than Other Vertical Axis Wind Turbines?


| 4/21/2009 12:00:00 AM


Tags: vertical axis wind turbine, wind turbines, wind energy,

I've heard that most vertical axis wind turbines don't produce nearly as much power as the horizontal axis models, but there's lots of information out right now about the new Windspire. Is there any reason to think it performs better than other vertical turbines?

I contacted the manufacturer of the Windspire to find out why they felt their turbine might perform better than other vertical-axis wind turbines (VAWTs). They cited two key reasons:

1) The Windspire is designed as a complete system — rotor, generator, inverter, even structure all tied into one package. “Every component is optimized so that the overall system efficiency can be maximized.”

2) The Windspire has a larger swept area than other VAWTs — the Windspire 1.2-kilowatt (kW) turbine has 80 square feet of swept area.

Their reasoning is sound. Balancing system components could definitely create higher efficiency than using unmatched parts. And swept area, which is the effective size of the wind energy “collector,” is key to higher performance for any wind turbine, whether it’s a VAWT or a HAWT (horizontal axis).

However, across the small wind industry, performance of small wind turbines in the field has often fallen far short of optimistic projected performance figures from manufacturers. Engineering innovations always create lots of excitement and expectations, whereas independent standardized testing of wind turbines is the answer to providing real performance data — something that has long been at the top of the wish list for wind aficionados.




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