Prototype "flat-pack" wind turbine pops up in the UK


July 18, 2012

The turbine is particularly well-suited to the gusting winds of inner cities

The turbine is particularly well-suited to the gusting winds of inner cities

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A new prototype wind turbine, 30 years in the making, and designed for flat-pack shipping and easy assembly, has been erected at Keele University in the UK.

Like other vertical axis turbines, the prototype, designed by McCamley, is particularly well-suited to the gusting winds of inner cities, though the company is quick to point out the design is also suitable for rural installations. The turbine is able to begin rotating during light breezes as modest as 1.8 m/s (4 mph) in speed.

McCamley says the design can be adapted to capacities between 1 and 24 kW, though larger sizes have yet to be realized. The present target is to develop a 12-kW model within the next six months. There are plans afoot to eventually scale the design to turbines of over 1 MW in capacity.

The low starting speeds mean that turbines can be mounted on building rooftops without the need of an additional mast, and McCamley claims the multi-leg design of the turbine reduces the stresses placed on the building's structure. Combined with the turbine's lightweight design, McCamley suggests the need for structure reinforcement can be reduced or negated.

Source: Keele University, McCamley

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life. All articles by James Holloway

Here in Pennsylvania (USA), people complain about the noise from propeller based wind turbines and educationalists complain about the propellers killing bats. How does this design compare on those two points? I would think it is less likely to kill bats. Companies are also pulling out because federal funding is drying up, hopefully this design is less costly.


Uncle Roy

VAWT turbines do not suffer either of the issues you mention. Birds and bats see them as a solid object unlike the propeller style HAWTs you are used to, and since the "blades" are not long arms the tips move much slower generating less noise.

Joel Joines

These small windturbines wouldn't pay for itself even after when the magnets and bearings wore itself out.

And what do you do you do when there's no wind? Woopdedoo


I have stood under the spinning blades of a 1.5 megawatt windmill in at least a 25mph wind the noise from windmill was less than the noise of the wind across the plains. However when the wind is blowing at an angle that brings it across 2 or more windmills you get more noise that just adding the noise from the 2 windmills together but a simple solution is to put greater separation between the windmills, and according to some research it will increase the output of electricity as well.

The number of birds killed by windmills is greatly exaggerated by the green fascists who voodoo up numbers by at the time of highest bird population count the scavengers and dead birds invent a number of dead birds that would have been eaten if the scavengers ate nothing but windmill killed birds, and then adding actual dead birds to theoretical dead bird and take that number and extrapolate for the number of birds killed in a year without accounting for the lowered bird population for the rest of the year. The life of windmill blades is shortened by bird strikes (this includes bats as well) so to prevent loosing an entire turbine when a blade fails they have sensors that count bird strikes and the actual count is at least an order of magnitude less than the "official numbers"

The real problem with windmills is that the output is subject to constant variation and the wind doesn't always blow when convenient. I have always thought that windmills should generate highly storable energy such as compressed air or lifted water and generate the electricity on demand.


Many of the 'bird killing' stroies about wind turbines emanated from the lattice style turbine towers employed in the early years. Modern towers are most usually mounted on a monopole that has absolutely nowhere for a bird to perch. The early towers provided plenty of places to roost - and as the birds flew in and flared for landing they'd get taken out by a blade. Bad design of towers was mostly the cause.

Marc 1

Sadly I agree with Slowburn. Windmills excel at the things they have traditionally been used for: milling and pumping.

I haven't read any research about using big windmills to pump water up a hill to make hydro power when it comes down and I'm too lazy to do the maths myself. Likewise they can compress air or just lifting a heavy weight. In those cases you could recover the potential energy added at a rate that more or less equalizes the average output of the windmill thus giving a steady power output. Maybe those storage techniques are inefficient enough to not bother with?


I was wondering about the practicality of lower powered versions in a domestic environment - for example within a suburban housing estate? You mention 1Kw turbines, would these be small and unobtrusive enough for someone's back garden area for instance.....? I'm a believer in reducing the distance Electricity has to move to the practical minimum, which of course is anathema to the National grid approach.

Anthony Holt

Liquid flouride thorium reactors don't have any blades to kill birds with, produce electricity on demand, wind or no wind, sun or no sun, to name but a few of their advantages over the outdated uranium designs. This site had an excellent item on small modular reactors a few months back and it certainly pointed me in a direction that has led to my being convinced that thorium is the way to solve the energy/climate crisis.

Mel Tisdale

a very reasonable way to store wind power is with "pumped storage".

but it helps to have a mountain or two available, and an ample supply of water.

Yevgenyi Gorbachev

Augmented wind turbine seems, AWT Kingston Polytechnic Institute 1990 prototype, documented in Independent Energy Magazine, March 1990 issue, page: 66. Prototype has augmentation similarity for 180 degrees. Consists of diffusers and famous Darrius blades. Natural result: low cut-in wind speed. Recommending also to try another augmented VAWT design "G Model Wind Turbine" which exists on web site congratulations. yasener

Ali Sener

This turbine along with other VAWT are just scams. The only cost effective ones are the normal 2-5 blade, especially the 3blade units as much less material for a lot more power.

Any other than these 2-5blde units can't be eff, cosy efective because of basic physics that works againsat Vertical WT's.

Noise on any good WT is less than wind noise and other problems have easy fixes. A good 2kw 14' dia 2kw unit can supply an eff home in many places with the power it needs for 50 yrs. YMMV.


re; Yevgenyi Nikolas Gorbachev

The water does not have to be fresh, and can be in a closed loop but it would take a couple of really big tanks or sheets of plastic. If you happen to have a large amount of mercury you could build the closed cycle system on a much smaller scale per watt.

There is also the option of compressed air, but it works best if you also tap the waste heat of compression and waste cold of expansion.


To jerryd-All current studies show you need three to eight times the diameter of the blades,plus every other turbine unit should rotate counter clockwise,which means each 180 foot diameter HAWT needs #1.minimum 10 mph winds,just to get started.#2.Nine to twenty five acres of land per windmill,for maximum power output!!For VAWT turbines,the same ratios apply,thus,minimum wind speed required to get started IS as low as 2MPH,AND the distance between turbines,like the one pictured in the article is @3 meters,is only 9 to 25 meters apart!!!Obviousely your "little experiance"is based on guessimation and ZERO HARD FACTS!!!


I also meant to say

A hydroelectric plant does not need a great height difference; 100m would work well. If you dig a great big hole in the ground you end up with a great big pile of dirt.


-What do you do when there's no wind?

What do you do when theres no gas? When theres no electricity? You look for another form of energy to get you what you need. That doesn't mean overlooking the basically free forms of energy that are flowing around you.

For a tech magazine I'm amazed at the great herd of Luddites that comment here. So many people that are afraid that something might actually be tried, instead of thinking of the possibilities that they could create. All technology has problems.. roads arent perfect, they wear out, they are costly. Yet we still have paved a huge area of the world, because we found a use for them. they make money? Do they pay for themselves? It depends on how wide of a point of view you take.


they didnt mention the kW output of that turbine, is it 4kW? I figure its between 2 and 10 please put specs with your articles.

Antony Stewart

ground effect renders any wind turbine hopelessly inefficient unless they are at least 20m aloft.

be sceptical of any design that does not meet this FUNDAMENTAL requirement.


"please put specs with your articles" ... is unrealistic IMO. Press releases or other publications might not have these essential details. The creators of innovations are often unreachable, or cannot yet provide furtesher details. Disappointed at the Luddites & unhelpful comments though. Common to many journalists, they do not bother to library-check previous relevant published articles in earlier editions of their own publication. Perhap Gizmag does not employ its own writers, but relies on off-site, contracted or ad hoc submissions. Back on topic: many similar turbines have been suggested over the last several decades. None have been widely adopted. Good to read informed comments why these innovations do not succeed.

Greg Zeng
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