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Is This the Wind Power Solution That Answers All the Critics?

| Friday November 4th, 2011 | 8 Comments

ban-startup-friday

Wind power, on paper, sounds like a good idea. No emissions generated. High potential for energy generation, when optimally located. No dependence on foreign oil.

And yet, wind power often gets hit with a number of doubts and concerns: first, theres the fact that the wind does not always blow. Will it be a source of noise pollution, due to the hum of the turbines as it turns? Does it need to be placed just so, to be effective? Does it need to be so huge? What about the birds, will the turbines be responsible for their death?

These are all legitimate concerns, and not unexpected, given people are used to power generation happening elsewhere, or when it’s local, being a silent set of solar panels. But that doesn’t mean wind power shouldn’t be pursued as an option. As early as 2008, Helix Wind was working on an urban scale, business friendly vertical wind option. Now comes Wind Energy Corporation that has clearly done its homework, presenting wind as a win/win for businesses and communities.

Rather than trying to present wind as the entire energy solution, WEC wisely addresses the off hours power question by saying, “Every commercial building can power itself … And wind is an essential part of the solution.”

On the aesthetic/eye pollution aspect, WEC turns the argument on its head, saying that the WindSail can be used as a visible commitment to a company’s sustainability goals, and can even serve as a marketing tool, customized with a company’s logo. In this way, the WindSail does double duty as both power and awareness generator.

Birds need not fear an untimely death, because according to WEC, the turbines are easily visible to them. Bats and butterflies? The WindSail is friendly to them too, claims WEC.

Noise? The WindSail generates its power not by the speed of rotation, but by the resulting torque, and the rotation is locked to a maximum of 80 RPM, so the resulting sound is minimized.

Location is not an issue, as the vertical orientation and spiraled shape is able to funnel wind from any direction. The WindSail uses technology created by Segway inventor Dean Kamen that stabilizes the to maintain optimum generation capacity while working in harmony with the various winds blowing it.

Size? At 6 meters tall by 4 meters wide, (roughly 20’x13’), and generating between 5.5kW and 12kW, the WindSail could easily be located in a number of commercial settings that a conventional wind turbine could never hope to attempt. Whether this will still run into local building permit issues is still to be seen.

While wind power isn’t yet the single source solution that current old regime power generation offers, done in tandem with other options, the WindSail does indeed offer the possibility that a business could power itself. And, given its greater range of where it could be installed, the collective energy generation could feasibly meet or far exceed that of larger wind farms located outside cities.

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Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations about, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media marketing.


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  • Marde Doolan

    Let’s not abandon the option of tapping energy from the wind. Let’s improve upon it. The wind sail seems to be one such example of creating a better design. If the safety of fowls are the concern, a mesh screen around it may deter any incoming flights. Making the concept work is still in the best interest of our planet.

  • http://runonsun.com/ Jim Jenal

    I am all for innovative designs for wind turbines but the company’s website does not show any photos of actual products – this all looks conceptual at this stage. I wrote the them to ask for information on pricing and availability – will be interesting to see how they respond.
    Easy to put up a cool website – harder to deliver product.

  • Kainoa Casco

    Nice write up. Have these vertical axis turbines caught up to horizontal axis turbines in output efficiency yet?

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