For one thing, they’re relatively large and unwieldy. As such, even the smallest versions usually aren’t suitable for urban (or suburban) environments. Then there’s the economics of wind power. For a residential wind system to be cost effective, wind speed in a given area must be 10 mph on average and a customer must be paying at least 10 cents/kWh for electricity, according to the American Wind Energy Association. Those constraints, along with the high cost of installation and maintenance, have kept turbines mainly on wind farms and out of residential areas.
One Swedish company thinks it has a way to broaden the wind power’s appeal, however. The key is a newly designed turbine that’s small enough for homes, schools and other public facilities and also more efficient.
Eschewing the standard three-blade turbine used for most turbines, Home Energy’s so-called Energy Ball sports a spherical design and uses what’s known as the Venturi effect to channel air through its six blades and around its generator. The result, according to the company, is a much more efficient turbine that doesn’t rely on consistently gusty winds to create energy.
The Energy Ball also has the added benefit of operating in complete silence, and the smaller version is capable of generating up to 15 percent of normal household’s energy for the year. Unfortunately, Home Energy hasn’t released any other specifics, but even if the turbine delivers on just some of these promises, expect wind energy to become a significantly more appealing option for individual homeowners and businesses in the near future…at least in Sweden.
Click here for a how-to guide on residential wind power.
Bryan has covered the ins and outs Silicon Valley and the tech industry for close to five years, writing about everything from supercomputers to greentech. He is a frequent contributor to Wired.com and has also written for the LA Weekly, PC Magazine and McSweeney’s. He also pens a regular gadget column for NorthWest Airlines.