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What’s So Special About Windspire Wind Turbines?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday August 28th, 2009 | 5 Comments

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windspire-turbineWindspire wind turbines were present at President Obama’s inauguration festivities. The 30 foot tall and four foot wide wind turbines generate power when the wind blows against vertical airfoils, which is then converted to AC electricity. Each wind turbine produces about 2,000 kilowatt (KW) hours per year in 12 mph average winds, and includes wireless monitoring software so power production can be checked. The turbines are different than most as they are not a propeller based system, but feature “a uniquely narrow sleek design that harnesses power from the wind by spinning smoothly on its own center pole.”

Founded in 2005 in Reno, Nevada, Mariah Power launched its Windspire wind turbines last year. A Michigan plant began producing the wind turbines in April. The Windspire wind turbines were labeled the “Best of What’s New in 08” by Popular Science Magazine, and featured on the television show, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and 20/20.

The Windspire wind turbines cost $9,000 to $12,000, but after rebates they could cost as little as $3,800. There is a 30 percent federal tax credit available, plus local rebates are available in some areas. The average payback is under ten years for the turbines that are designed to last over 20 years. According to Windustry, a non-profit group based in Minnesota, the average wind turbine costs $35,000 to $50,000.

“You have to look at this as one of the first entries into the renewable energy market that’s completely affordable for ordinary people,” said Jeremy Peang-Meth, a Blue Sun Renewable Energy partner.

Brian Miles, wind energy extension specialist at North Carolina State University, said of the Windspire turbines, “The big thing going for this one, quite honestly, is they’ve been diligent about doing third-party verification. A lot of these products make outlandish claims, or even normal claims, that are totally unverified.”

This week, Mariah Power announced it is launching Windspire wind turbines in the European market. “We have enjoyed great success bringing a whole new approach to small wind to the US market with the Windspire,” said Mariah Power CEO Mike Hess. “We are excited to bring an affordable and great-looking new wind product to the European market.”


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  • Nick Aster

    My understanding is that many of the employees of WindSpire were laid off from Auto plants. If so then this is an especially impressive example of re-tooling for a new, more sustainable economy.

    • http://www.mariahpower.com Amy Berry

      It is true! The factory used to make automation equipment for all of the major car manufacturers. They were down to 5 employees when they met with Mariah Power to show how they could make the Windspire with better quality and for a better price. They are using the same skills they were for the auto industry- welding steel. Most of the people who were laid off have been rehired now to work on the Windspire.
      “20/20″ did a really nice feature on it http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=7886884

  • http://www.sincerelysustainable.com The Author

    Though wind is a sexy and unique renewable option, the majority of the geography and populated locations in the U.S. are not suited for efficient wind production. Just look at a wind map on the DOE’s website and you’ll see very few areas in the country where a turbine like this would actually produce at its estimated potential output.

    There are a couple of people who put turbines up here in Atlanta…where it’s sunny and has an average wind speed of 2 mph. So instead of spending tens of thousands of dollars on a hefty solar system that would actually produce a fair amount of power, they made an emotional decision and wasted their money on a turbine that probably produces a quarter of the power and similarly sized solar system would produce.

    Just FYI to everyone wanting to get into renewables. DO your homework and go with the numbers before you make a decision on a very expensive investment that you want to make sure pays off.

    http://www.sincerelysustainable.com

  • Katie

    OK, but nothing I’ve seen on PV factors in the periodic replacement of all the working parts of the system. They all say they’ll pay off in ten years, but leave unsaid whether you’ll have to pony up your whole investment over again the next year.

    Maybe wind performs 1/2 as well, but the the most costly parts of it last for 50 years instead of five?

    I got one of those solar powered attic vent fans. It cost over $500 with installation, the solar cells fried within three years and the whole thing is kaput. Don’t tell me that’s green.

  • alfie0077

    Read the books by Paul Gipe. (Gype).  He is a real authority.  Theses are nothing new, and fail, fail, fail.  The reason is the unreal load on the base bearing.  
    The only real improvement in wind technology in the past hundred years is the Tension Turbine. This can be found at tensionturbine.com