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Helix looking to use mobile phone towers for wind energy generation


October 3, 2009

Mobile towers in the future could be self sufficient if wind turbines are used to power them

Mobile towers in the future could be self sufficient if wind turbines are used to power them

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Later this month, Helix Wind Corporation will deliver its first test wind turbines to Eltek Network Solutions Group for installation at two test sites in Nigeria. Sites in the US are also set to take delivery of test modules. The turbines will provide a clean energy solution for mobile phone towers and if tests prove successful, could see wind power being rolled out to hundreds of sites over the next few years.

"Currently such towers are powered by diesel generators, which are bad for the environment and extremely expensive to operate," said Helix Wind CEO Ian Gardner. "Anywhere the power grid is unreliable, expensive or simply non-existent, wind is an ideal renewable energy resource able to power these towers and reduce their operating cost."

Unlike familiar tri-blade turbines which can only capture wind energy from one direction at a time, the Helix system catches the wind from all directions in its long helical blade scoops. The scoop will start to spin in a slight 8mph breeze and is robust enough to withstand sustained winds of up to 80mph and gusts of up to 125mph without suffering damage. Combine this robustness with low maintenance and remote locations beckon.

Mobile phones, it seems, are here to stay and masts will continue to dot their way around towns and cities, villages and countryside for some time to come. According to the company, investment in wind technology by mobile phone operators should not only pay for itself in as little as six months but with systems ranging from 300W to 50kW, it should also allow towers to go completely off-grid or not have to depend on unreliable or expensive energy sources.

Whether embracing such technology will lead to a cheaper mobile experience for us consumers remains to be seen, but using clean energy to power the masts that help make those experiences possible is long overdue.

The following video shows the Helix system in operation around the world:

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Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag. All articles by Paul Ridden

This is a great idea. I sincerely doubt we as consumers will see any price breaks though.

Nikki Brown

These kind of wind generators are ineff. A regular 3 blade one would put out the same energy at 1/4-1/5 the size, cost.

Fact is no other type has ever come close to as eff a normal 3 blade is, getting up to 56% of the winds power. The one shown may get 10% of the winds power. And that's why by far most windgens you see are 2-3 blade horizontal ones for making electricity.


It would be nice if they published efficiency data on power output at various windspeeds (will have to check their website).

Here's the theoretical Betz limits on wind generators on power and wind speed for different swept blade areas:


Surely the point of this article is that these generators will be installed on mobile phone towers, allowing them to become self sufficient. The forthcoming tests will determine whether they prove fit for this purpose. If not, I'm sure other types will be considered when plans are returned to the drawing board. Although placing dual- or tri- blade wind generators on mobile phone masts might be a tad more difficult than installing a system such as this - imho.

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