Or so they say: Terra Moya Aqua, Inc., of Cheyenne, Wyoming, has developed what they call a “vertical axis” turbine that looks like a tower without the propellers of more common wind turbines. Because of its reduced height and radical design, the company touts it as more efficient, easier to maintain and install, and genuinely bird-friendly:
One of the primary environmental drawbacks of the propeller wind turbines is that they kill birds. The tips of the blades spin much faster than the wind speed, chopping through the air sometimes at speeds of 200 mph. The birds generally just don't see them coming.
The TMA vertical axis design probably "looks like a building to the bird," said Taylor. "We've never seen a dead bird at our test site." Likely this is because birds don’t normally fly into solid walls.
He notes that his company has been able to secure permission to install their turbine in several California counties where propeller turbines are banned because of the known bird carnage.
They also say it’s “six to eight times” as efficient as other turbines, lowering the cost per kilowatt hour of energy generation.
Design creates pull on the back side, contributing to 40%+ wind conversion efficiencies; doesn't kill birds; runs more quietly; and doesn't need to be installed as high, blending better with landscape. Generating costs estimated at 3.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, surpassing conventional energy sources.
It’s starting to sound like a Ronco product on late-night TV. But maybe it’s true.
(This is also on /. here, where some of the news nerds don’t seem to believe birds die in turbines at all.)
UPDATE: The After Gutenberg blog has this good link on Savonius and other vertical-axis turbines versus horizontal axis turbines -- a little technical, but not beyond comprehension. It gets into "lift-based" and "drag-based" technology, which makes the whole thing a little easier to understand.
It's not too good to be true just yet . . .
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