Portable Turbine: Wind Power At A Human Scale

Call the Savannius wind turbine a precursor of the future of energy, because that is certainly how its designers see it—as a device that people can experience up close and first-hand, in the process gaining an awareness of small-scale wind turbines, a technology that could help solve energy and ecological challenges.

A prize winner in the product category in the Green Dot Awards, from the United States, the Savannius wind turbine by Emre Girgin and Hirotaka Matsui is a combination park bench/wind turbine. The designers believe their concept will create the sort of social awareness and acceptance that will lead to an almost ubiquitous uptake of small wind turbines within urban areas. Simultaneously, the devices could provide a public service as charging stations—via a bank of batteries housed inside the bench portion of the turbine—for the many small electronic devices people now carry with them.

Savannius wind turbine

image via Green Dot Awards

The Savannius wins because of its overwhelming portability—nothing more than a bench with a short (about 15 feet) central pedestal around which revolves a vertical-axis wind turbine protected by a shroud composed of 12 blades. Because of its short stature and relatively low noise quotient, the Savannius could easily be deployed in significant numbers at park or at outdoor fairs, exhibits, concerts or sports events, to name a few. And when the event is over, simply unscrew the single hand-operated fastener and disassemble the wind turbines for use elsewhere.

savannius vertical-axis wind turbine

image via Hirotaka Matsui

The inside of the bench portion also contains a recycled polyethylene tank, which can be filled with water to provide stability to the Savannius wind turbine in areas where winds might become turbulent or forceful. The turbine blades are formed of recycled polyester sheet. The shroud does triple duty, blocking the distracting whirl of the blades, aiming wind directly onto the blades for increased energy production, and providing a baffle which prevents injury to birds and other small flying creatures. In fact, in a global economic climate that seems to lack many small, affordable and efficient wind turbine options that can be sited in or near residential neighborhoods, the Savannius is a welcome addition.

  • Marc

    What abaout EROI of this kind of design? For those who are not familiar, EROI stans for “energy return on ennergy invested.” If you have to invest, say, 1.000 units of energy to build and tranportate, and get 1.000 or less units back within the useful lifespan of the equipament, it is worthless. Small designs, for many reasons, tend to present this problem.

    • Shalisa

      It is about 40,000 units to produce and gives about 10 units a day. 

      • Shalisa

        Lifespan is about 3 years. So, its a loss of 8000+ units. 

  • Niko DePofi

    Cost and output?

  • I’m sorry to say this, but this is really lame reporting.  A good reporter would have told us how many kilowatts it produces at what wind speed, the dollar cost, and many other things, which others have alluded to.  The “Gee whiz, it’s alternative energy” school of reporting is simply inadequate.  And if all it’s good for is recharging my cell phone, I have news:  my cell phone, throughout its life, will use less than a dime’s worth of electricity.  That tells you how inexpensive and efficient any alternative needs to be, to make sense.
      Then again, perhaps this new design has merit — in which case, the reporter has failed to make the case.

    • Pete Danko

      John,
      Although this wind turbine was in the “products” category in the Green Dot Awards, the designers only had what they describe as a “small prototype” made, so it struck us as more a concept than product. Given that, we approached writing about it with the intention of introducing readers to a design concept that might stimulate thinking and discussion about new directions wind power could go, without attempting to assess the engineering and viability of it as an actual product. If the design does move further along and it appears as though it might become a real factor in the market, we would hope to write a more rigorous piece, addressing the issues that you correctly suggest are important.
      Thank you for your comment.
      Pete Danko
      Managing Editor, EarthTechling

  • Marci357

    Would like to see cost for home use.  Could see this in areas where electric goes out a lot or for cabins or camping, if made on a smaller scale and affordable. Actually can see it on my back porch… 

  • ٌWithout tech. Info. does’nt worth discussion  ,no room for high school gadgets .

  • jeffhre

    Tough crowd?

  • Peter Hayes

    Would like to showcase this prototype next week at high level international presentation with large-scale financiers. If interested, pls email me at idihayes7@gmail.com or 902-690-5267