It’s been a long, winding road for the development of commercially-viable vertical-axis wind turbines. The advantages over their horizontal-axis brethren are significant: Only 50ft high or less, bird-friendly, low, rigid steel frames, low drive train for easy maintenance, and — most importantly — low cost. A recently-incorporated California wind company called Wind Harvest International is is ready to commercially produce two models of its turbines and is raising funds toward that goal. The first testing grounds for their technology will be Palm Springs — a locale which the U.S. Department of Energy considers to be “one of California’s primary wind-generating regions”. From the article,

Company CEO Kevin Wolf said the last prototype built in 2004 gained Wind Harvest new patents that allow the company to place the turbines close together, which lowers costs and maximizes land use on a wind farm. The patents fit in with the company plan to produce low-cost, low-maintenance turbines that generate profits rather than losses. For the next few years, said Wagner, the company will focus solely on wind farms. ‘Our market is underneath the existing turbines,” he told ‘It’s like drilling for oil below where the others drill.’”

A utility-scale conventional wind plant generally requires about 60 acres per megawatt of installed capacity. Granted, only about 5% of this is actually taken up by the turbines themselves. With Wind Harvest’s turbines requiring less space between installations, the environmental impact would be considerably less; not to mention the visual improvements of verticals only reaching 50ft tall. Nice.

For more info, jump over the Wind Harvest’s site.

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