Wind Turbine Claims Plenty Of Power, No Noise

An Australian company’s alternative wind-turbine design has 30 blades instead of the traditional three – but, ironically, it’s much quieter than the typical noisy rotors. At least, that’s the claim made by Renewable Energy Solutions Australia, the manufacturer of the Eco Whisper turbine.

The company said the turbine is “virtually silent,” thanks to its unique design, in which the 30 blades are angled outward from the hub, and surrounded at their ends by a ring. This ring, the company says, “prevents air ‘spilling’ off the tip of the blades,” the source of much of the noise that traditional turbines produce. The company also lists greater efficiency and lower start-up speeds as advantages compared to competitors.

Eco Whisper noiseless wind turbine

image via Renewable Energy Solutions Australia

With a wind-generating capacity pegged at 20 kilowatts (kW), the Eco Whisper isn’t on a scale with the giant 1.6-megawatt (and larger) turbines you see at wind farms, but it is a lot bigger than many of the vertical-axis turbines we see, like those from Urban Green Energy that top out around 1 kW. The Eco Whisper stands on a pole about 70 feet tall and has a blade diameter of around 20 feet.

The Eco Whisperer was recently unveiled in Geelong, Victoria, according to Azocleantech.com, and the company is ready to go to market with the device, aiming to sell it for use at commercial, manufacturing and industrial sites; urban sites such as schools and shopping centers; and remote sites, especially as an alternative to diesel-power generation. Here’s a video, provided by the company, of the Eco Whisper in action:

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.

29 Comments

  • Reply October 28, 2011

    Gaffneybob

    I hope their turbine is better than their video.n

  • Reply November 11, 2011

    ahsan

    its great breakthroughnu00a0u00a0u00a0u00a0u00a0u00a0 congratulations

  • Reply May 10, 2013

    Rockne O'Bannon

    Not a troll because I don’t really buy the “bird strike” thing, but someone should get ready to counter the argument that this thing looks even more like the business end of a vegematic than the usual three-blader.

    On the other hand, a lot of bird people believe that birds will shy away from large circular things that look like eyes, so the debate will definitely continue. Anyway, looks good to me. I wish I could put up about five at a school nearby.

    • Reply May 21, 2013

      Leslie Graham

      Wind turbines kill tiny numbers of birds compared to other causes.

      The biggest killers are cats followed by tall glass buildings followed by moving cars. And we are talking several orders of magnitude.
      Turbines are estimated to have killed 42,000 birds last year in the US.
      Cats killed 110 MILLION.
      The fossil-fuel shills who spread lies about wind power don’t give a damn about birds.
      Or you.

      • Reply May 21, 2013

        Rockne O'Bannon

        Leslie, take a deep breath after spouting the obvious. As a bird lover, I already know all of that. Tell it to a cat lover. Go to ilovecats.com and give them some grief.

        I specifically stated in my post that I don’t believe the bird strike argument… just to keep the trolls, shills, and the animal lovers and everyone else at bay.

        I guess it does not work. You can’t make an observation these days without some know-it-all carping up to try to make everything even more fair and balanced than it already is. You can’t even couch an observation in disclaimers without someone ignoring the disclaimers and mounting some straw man attack.

        No wonder people just gravitate to the sites they like. Anyone who wants to point out something interesting has to face a wave of PR. How much more pleasant it is to just not have to deal with everyone in your face all the time.
        Or you.

        • Reply May 21, 2013

          PD

          Rockne, sorry your comment (which I appreciated) was misinterpreted.

          • May 21, 2013

            Rockne O'Bannon

            Your information is useful for a lot of people. Just not so much for me. That’s the thing.

        • Reply May 24, 2013

          jeffhre

          So you are saying that, The fossil-fuel shills who spread lies about wind power do give a damn about birds,
          and you?

          IMO Rockne, after reading both posts, I don’t think that Leslie’s post was a criticism of your ideas at all. More of an expansion on them.

          • June 21, 2013

            Alec Sevins

            One needn’t be a “fossil fuel shill” to see the blatant damage wind turbines are inflicting on natural landscapes. Life is not a matter of “with us or against us” per the likes of G.W. Bush.

            I never knew so many “environmentalists” were willing to literally throw nature under the blades. I think wind turbine pushers are techies, not enviros. The acreage affected by (large industrial) turbines is truly depressing for those with aesthetic values. They get protested for many valid reasons. Ignoring those reasons is as phony as global warming denial.

          • June 23, 2013

            tootiredoftheright

            Damage? The examinations of the birds that were killed showed that many were old or were dying when the turbine killed them. Coal power plant on the other hand kills tons of healthy birds.

            What you rather have? Five old birds killed each year or several hundred thousand healthy young ones that were poisoned to death by a power plant.

          • August 9, 2013

            Marty Galyean

            I bet no one has bothered to see if any of the wildlife killed by fossil fuels were “old” or “dying” anyway. So wind is good because it strips out the weak and old? Couldn’t that argument be applied to nearly any negative human activity wherein the victims tend the be the weaker and slower?

          • August 9, 2013

            Marty Galyean

            Agreed. I think if you gathered all the posts that others claim are “fossil fuel shills” and actually looked into the posters, they are not being paid by the fossil fuel industry and therefore not “shills”. Maybe, just maybe, there are free thinking individuals in existence who are actually healthily skeptical about any technology that is wrapped more in emotion than ecology or economics.

      • Reply June 21, 2013

        Alec Sevins

        Keep in mind that wind turbines are only getting more numerous. It’s not a static situation where you can say only X number of birds (and bats) will ever be killed.

        Plus, the hypocrisy of something “green” killing any flying animals can’t be ignored. People need to face the fact that these are industrial scale machines and stop making excuses just because they don’t directly burn fossil fuels. They sure burn a lot of them during manufacture and installation, and their roads carve up countless fields and ridges under the badge of “clean” energy. The landscape keeps getting dirtier as these things are installed.

        • Reply July 29, 2013

          Bruce Morgan Williams

          The footprint of a typical wind turbine is about the size of a minivan, and they are placed roughly one (maybe two at the most) every square kilometer. There is no toxic exhaust, no carcinogens, no oil leaks, no leach ponds, no floodlights, no traffic, no pipelines, and very little noise. At the end of their life, they are removed for the value of the steel. The land is completely restored very quickly and cheaply by simply removing access roads. The energy payback time (to cover the energy used to manufacture and install) is less than two years by all scholarly estimates. We should compare the impacts to alternative forms of energy generation, not to some idyllic perfect Eden habitat. In fact, offshore turbines provide sanctuary for marine mammals and allow the seafloor to recover from bottom trawling, increasing bio productivity significantly.
          There is a lot of misinformation out there, spread by the fossil fuel industry and repeated by the ignorant. Please educate yourself using only peer reviewed published literature.

          • August 9, 2013

            Marty Galyean

            Those paypack times are entirely subsidy based. Without the subsidies, it is much grimmer when maintenance costs are figured in. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of wind power, but it is far from a panacea and quite over-hyped.

    • Reply August 9, 2013

      Marty Galyean

      A quick vid search on the web will provide you with quite a few graphic examples.

      • Reply August 9, 2013

        Rockne O'Bannon

        A few graphic examples is pretty well worthless. I have seen plenty of dead birds from just about every cause you can imagine. I have seen as many birds killed by open cisterns of water as by cats as by gunshots as by plate glass windows. It is always sad, but it just keeps happening.

        On the other hand, people are eating far fewer wild birds these days. One could say that we have come a long way. I used to know duck and pheasant hunters. Not anymore.

        I am sure that things like videos this will convince some people, but I find that people who “feel sorry” for animals don’t spend much time around them. And would “nature” be better served by coal strip mining and smog? The issue is complicated.

        • Reply August 11, 2013

          Marty Galyean

          “A newly published peer-reviewed study reports U.S. wind turbines kill 1.4 million birds and bats every year, even while producing just 3 percent of U.S. electricity. ”
          http://bit.ly/14yNsmb

          • August 11, 2013

            Rockne O'Bannon

            I see this exact quote all over the place, from Forbes to Facebook. It is a press release put out in late July. Did anybody bother to read the study? FIrst of all, the study was published in “Wildlife Society Bulletin” which, well, you can tell from the title that its “peers” are not exactly the National Science Foundation.

            The study was done by ONE GUY from UC Davis, with a Ph.D. in “Ecology.” Not Biology, not Physics. “Ecology.”

            So what about the study? Well, he did not actually count the birds. By his own account, he “reviewed records” of bird strikes across North America, then “applied a common estimator and 3 adjustment factors to data collected from these reports. To adjust fatality estimates for proportions of carcasses not found during routine monitoring, he used national averages from hundreds of carcass placement trials intended to characterize scavenger removal and searcher detection rates, and he relied on patterns of carcass distance from wind turbines to develop an adjustment for variation in maximum search radius around wind turbines mounted on various tower heights”

            So just to clarify, we don’t know how he chose his reports, but he assumed they were all wrong. We don’t know his “estimator” or “adjustment factors.” Then he adjusted those study findings FOR CARCASSES NOT FOUND… in other words, he assumed that more birds must have been killed, even though no other scientist ever found them. Then he assumed that taller turbines MUST have larger kill radii, even though their blades move more slowly. In short, he starts with the premise that more birds “MUST” have been killed. And that is what he finds. Surprise.

            I don’t know. Looks pretty fudged to me. But is anyone who reads “Wildlife Society Bulletin” going to accuse him of fudging? No. At best, his number is an estimate based on a non-random selection of estimates and some questionable assumptions.

            Sorry. I am not convinced. Objectively speaking, this study is not worth the paper it is printed on. The author of the study would have done a better service to society if he had just listed the studies and published THEIR information rather than just assuming that they were all wrong and making up his own number.

          • August 12, 2013

            Pete Danko

  • Reply June 4, 2013

    edx111

    wonder how it would stand up to a cat 5 hurricane

    • Reply July 29, 2013

      Bruce Morgan Williams

      It wouldn’t. No currently operating turbine anywhere is designed for that, but the Japanese are working on typhoon resistant models.

    • Reply August 9, 2013

      Marty Galyean

      Even more intriguing, what would it take to capture the energy from a cat 5 hurricane, thereby rendering it harmless as well as harvesting its juice? Hey, dream big, right? 😉

    • Reply August 9, 2013

      Rockne O'Bannon

      Bruce is right.

      In Japan, wind development is excruciatingly slow. I can’t believe it is so slow. Apparently NO large projects have sought public subsidies in the last two years, I find that hard to believe, but I have heard it more than once. But one of the few projects is being installed off the coast of Fukushima, which had the tsunami and which has typhoons every year. Most areas of Japan get about 10 typhoons each year, in addition to strong seasonal winds that are extremely predictable.

      The problem with strong winds like that is that the grid is likely to be going down just as you are surging into it. Japan is not a leader in hydrogen generation from wind, but it will be adopted someday, probably by then Japan will be able to profit from its “kamikaze.”

  • Reply June 21, 2013

    Alec Sevins

    70 feet tall is as big as a wind turbine ought to be if it wants to claim “green” status. The 400-500 foot ones are ruining too many landscapes. Noise is really a tangential issue. Visual blight is far more blatant. Infrastructure that’s supposed to be “good for the planet” should not dwarf natural scenery.

    • Reply July 9, 2013

      Trenton Meador

      “Visual blight”, You’re really going to argue that point when it’s free energy that does not pollute the area. If that is what you’re trying to get at, being that it is visually not appealing, then you must hate cities all together because of the visual blight of the surrounding nature. Or that we destroyed the nature to build the city, including your home.

      • Reply August 9, 2013

        Marty Galyean

        “Free energy”. lol. The manufacture, installation, and maintenance costs are as high or higher than any other plant type per watt. Our grandkids will be protesting that the massive number of wind farms deployed in the future cause bad climate change due to slower windspeeds or something similar. Not to mention the bird strike kills. And flying car collisions with those massive blades will be on the news nightly in 2034! 😀

    • Reply July 29, 2013

      Bruce Morgan Williams

      You have hit on the one undeniably significant impact. All the rest are trivial. I personally find them aesthetically pleasing, but to each his own. Sure beats a conventional power plant, however.

  • Reply July 11, 2013

    PlayTOE

    20 kw will run a small farm or business, or a very large home and electric car (with extra power to sell to the grid).

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