Urban Wind Energy
Life off the grid, no longer dependent upon the power company to supply you with the juice you need to turn on the lights and so many other items.
Fifty years ago this was a dream that many followed; a dream that has been recently reborn. However, not everyone can leave the city, and not everyone wants to; in fact over the past decade people have been moving into town, in record numbers.
Fortunately, it is still possible to follow the dream of getting off the grid and remaining in town. The journey to be completely off grid may be a gradual one phased in over several years or you may stay partly connected.
There have been a number of advancements in renewable energy over the past ten years. About six years ago I was a member of a wind energy cooperative; our focus was on the big turbines and getting installed in our area. The turbines would be owned by the cooperative.
It was during this period that I was introduced to the idea of community energy. Basically individuals would generate their own energy and not be tied into the grid or at the mercy of a large corporation to get their juice.
My focus has changed from the big machine to small machines that could fit into an urban centre. The interest in community energy and getting off the grid while living in the city remains strong.
Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (VAWTs), spin around a vertical axis instead of the traditional horizontal axis. VAWTs are omni-directional which means they can instantaneously accept wind from any direction
Manufacturers and supporters claim VAWTs have the following advantages, they:
can be mounted directly on a rooftop, doing away with the tower and associated guy lines
spin at slower speeds than horizontal turbines, decreasing the risk of injuring birds and also decreasing noise levels
start producing power at slower wind speeds than horizontal turbines
The two most frequent objections to VAWTs in the urban setting are in reference to roof mounted turbines. People express their concerns about vibrations and the impact this would have on the structure. If you are planning to invest in a roof top model VAWT be sure to investigate this.
The second concern applies to wind turbines in general and that is the issue of noise, while manufacturers and supporters all say the machines being sold today are quiet, what is quiet to one person is not quiet to another. Again check this out before installing.
If the claims in favour of the VAWT are supportable then these turbines may well be ideal for urban energy use and could play an important role in the development of a community energy system.
Now is the time to take renewable energy seriously, hopefully it is not too late.