January 29, 2009 While wind turbines are a clean, green way to generate power, they can be a bit of an eyesore and require quite a bit of room meaning, more often than not, they need to be located in sparsely populated areas far from where the generated power is actually needed. We’ve looked at AeroVironment’s innovative urban solution as well as StatoilHydro’s HyWind. Now a look at another innovative product - Windspire. The Windspire, from Reno, Nevada based Mariah Power, combats the large footprint problem by employing a propeller-free design that makes it ideal for rural, suburban, and even some urban residential environments.

There are two main classes of wind turbines. Horizontal Axis Wind Turbines, (HAWTs), with which most would be familiar, have blades that rotate around a horizontal axis, similar to a propeller on an airplane, while Vertical Axis Wind turbines, (VAWTs), the category the Windspire falls into, have rotors that rotate around a vertical axis. These rotors can be curved or straight and the Windspire falls into the subcategory of VAWTs called Giromills, which uses straight-sided blades. Mariah Power says it has used extensive engineering to find the optimal airfoil configuration, one which circumvents self-starting problems that are associated with Giromill turbines so that, unlike most Giromill turbines, the Windspire does not need to be started with a motor or drag device in order to start capturing energy.

Not only do Vertical Axis Wind Turbines offer the advantages of a smaller footprint than their Horizontal Axis brethren, they don’t need to orient themselves with the changing wind directions but can readily capture wind energy from any direction. Mariah Power says the Windspire is also extremely quiet, is rated for winds up to 100 mph and comes with a high efficiency generator, integrated inverter, hinged monopole, wireless performance monitor and a 5-year warranty.

The 1.2 kW Windspire will produce approximately 2000 kilowatt hours per year in 12 mile per hour average winds while the included internal wireless modem can continuously transmit power production information directly to your computer so you can check your power production at any time.

The 1.2 kW Windspire is available now for around USD$5,000 installed, while a low wind version, an off-grid or battery-charging version and a 3 kW version are all in development.