08 Apr 2013:
Project to Test Promise of
Small, Vertical-Axis Wind Turbines
A wind farm being planned in a remote Alaska village will seek to demonstrate that small, vertical-axis turbines can produce more energy than conventional wind turbines and with less
Vertical-axis wind turbines
environmental impact. While the turbines used in most standard wind farm projects can produce turbulence that decreases the output of the turbines downstream, John Dabiri, a California Institute of Technology professor, says that small, vertical-axis turbines can create a wake that actually boosts the output of adjacent turbines
if positioned strategically. In addition, the smaller turbines can be placed closer together without causing aerodynamic interference, are cheaper to produce, and are less likely to kill birds, Dabiri told MIT’s Technology Review
. Dabiri says he hopes his project in Alaska, which could eventually include 70 turbines in the village of Igiugig, can generate as much energy as the diesel generators currently used by the community. Critics, however, argue that the vertical-axis turbines aren’t as efficient as conventional turbines since the turning blades spend half the time moving against the wind, and that such constant wear-and-tear will degrade the blades.