A Wind Turbine for Midsize Users

Connecticut start-up Optiwind, aiming to fill the space between small, home-style wind generation and large-scale wind-farm applications, has come out with a turbine designed for commercial-sized power users such as schools and factories hoping to generate their own energy. And it claims its new Compact Wind Acceleration Turbine (CWAT) can deliver renewable energy at well below existing market prices.

Three years in development, the Optiwind system begins with a self-erecting tower topped by a rotating cylinder. Wind rushes around the cylinder and is forced through several smaller fans mounted on opposite sides of the structure. In a press release, Optiwind said its turbines are rated up to 300 kilowatts, enough energy to power up to 50 homes.

image via Optiwind

“The advantages of this design over more conventional models are significant,” Russ Marvin, Optiwind CEO and principal inventor of the technology said in a statement. “CWATs can be installed for up to 30 percent less than conventional turbines in this size class. We’re very proud of the fact that Optiwind’s CWAT is the first midsized turbine to deliver clean, renewable energy at a price that is competitive with the grid.”

The company claimed a number of other advantages to its system, including: smaller fans that mean less noise and shadow; direct drive generators that reduce lower maintenance costs; shrouds around the individual fans, making them safer for birds and bats; and a design that results in no radar interference, allowing the turbines to be installed near airports and military bases.

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.