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Urban Wind Energy

Updated on April 2, 2011

Urban Wind

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.

VAWT

courtesy flickr/libbydorazione
courtesy flickr/libbydorazione

Comments

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  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    8 years ago from New Brunswick

    "Community responses would be more favorable if everyone agreed that this needs to be done, not just thought about" This is indeed the first hurdle getting everyone to agree and then act.

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    8 years ago from New Brunswick

    I do not like to quote prices as they can vary from location to location and system to system.

  • Wealthmadehealthy profile image

    Wealthmadehealthy 

    8 years ago from Somewhere in the Lone Star State

    A hub the entire USA should read. This is a challenge due to the rise in power costs. Ghost32 here in hub pages has effectively taken himself entirely off the grid and has written many hubs about how to do it.

    Community responses would be more favorable if everyone agreed that this needs to be done, not just thought about

    Wonderful hub!!

  • James L profile image

    James L 

    8 years ago from Canada

    There are a few people near where I live that have had the really big traditional windmills installed on their property and it is a very expensive process but also generates enough electricity to make it worth while. Do you know what the cost of a VAWT installation would be?

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    8 years ago from New Brunswick

    Solar is a good system, however, the source for local power needs to be based upon what works best in that community for some wind is better. Having said that a combination of both solar and wind is likely best.

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 

    8 years ago from London, UK

    To my non-existing knowledge of anything like that is why don't they use the solar panels? To me it is the best but as I said I have no idea. One thing they have less an impact on the surrounding as these windmills and I am sure they produce the same energie as these windmill. They should fit every house with it and most it would just as cheap if not cheaper.

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    8 years ago from New Brunswick

    That is the first step.

  • rpalulis profile image

    rpalulis 

    8 years ago from NY

    I want to be off the grid.

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    8 years ago from New Brunswick

    Dobson, you are welcome, both Canada and The USA need to do much more when I come to renewable energy.

  • Dobson profile image

    Dobson 

    8 years ago from Virginia

    I have quite an interest in this Bob. I saw a NOVA article on PBS talking about the commitment the German government has made to renewable energy and wish the USA would do something similar.

    Thanks for sharing this information about VAWT.

  • msorensson profile image

    msorensson 

    8 years ago

    Thanks, Bob. All you need is a small group to start with. Best wishes on the project.

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    8 years ago from New Brunswick

    A small group of us are taking a serious look at a VAWT project and talking with a few others. I have read a bit about methane and energy production, thanks for commenting.

  • msorensson profile image

    msorensson 

    8 years ago

    I agree with you...we need to reexamine them..the renewable energy sources.

    Have you ever implemented any of it in your community? I am just curious.

    Some people in Oregon have already been using fermentation technology for generating methane from farm wastes.

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