Nothing shouts “I’m green” like a vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT). Contrary to solar installations, which often lie hidden on a flat roof, VAWTs stand up straight-and-tall, declaring energy efficiency – and, happily, benevolence for bats and birds. Still, contrary to their confident stance, they’re not terrifically powerful machines (with noted exception). For that reason, VAWTs are increasingly accompanied by a solar array.
According to renewable energy experts, a small hybrid electric system that combines windpower and solar PV offers several advantages over systems featuring just one or the other. If you’re an insufferably corny blogger, you might say it’s a marriage made in a renewable energy heaven. Or you may not. Anyway, chief among the benefits is increased and consistent energy production and less required space per installation, according to Urban Green Energy, a manufacturer of distributed energy solutions.
As the company explains, a natural, negative correlation exists between sun and wind-power generation: When one is high, the other tends to be low. And a standard 4-kW turbine requires about 25% as much space as an equivalent solar system. Where space is limited, such differences can make or break the decision to install.
The following diagram from the Department of Energy shows how such systems work:
Although it appears on commercial property, I think the overall premise of the following hybrid system remains the same: Solar and wind-power combine to kick butt.
This system takes us to the last place I’d expect to find solar panels: Churchill, Manitoba, Canada –1,313 miles north of Cleveland’s Windpower Engineering and Development office, on the banks of the frequently frozen Hudson Bay. Churchill Wild is a vacation lodge known for eco-tours. It attracts the likes of National Geographic and countless tourists who wish to scout out polar bears, beluga whales and arctic birds. Before installing solar panels, the lodge used diesel fuel. No power lines here. The panels reduced fuel consumption by 75%. But now the lodge has taken a second step: it installed vertical-axis wind turbines. The combined power generated by the VAWTs and the solar panels will virtually eliminate the use of fossil fuels.
“The beauty of it is that we have a battery storage system,” says Mike Reimer of Churchill Wild on the company’s blog. “The power generated from the VAWTs and the solar panels is stored in the batteries and we draw off of them … We’ll be paying substantially less than the $1 to $1.30 per kilowatt it costs for diesel generated power.”
This particular VAWT, manufactured by VBINE ENERGY in Winkler, Manitoba, has a permanent magnet generator with two long-life bearings, no drive shaft and no slips springs or brushes. It’s two meters in width, quiet and suitable for grid tie-in or battery storage. It starts generating power at wind speeds of 1.2 meters per second and can generate 5 kW of power with 25 mph wind. The design also minimizes interference with wildlife.
Now, if this makes you want a wind turbine for your own lodge, and you have an extra $33,779.00, you can head over to Amazon and buy this 5-kW turbine. It comes with everything but the wind. But if you’d like to see some alternative VAWTs, try this site.
You may also find some help at the following websites:
To find out what incentives your state or municipality offers, click here (click on the tab that says “Rebate programs for renewable”).
You may be surprised to learn that Chicago is not the windiest city. To find out how windy your city is, click here.
For more wind turbine manufacturers and to learn more about small wind power click here.
Filed Under: Turbines