Windspire 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.”