Saturday, May 21, 2011

The potential for small-scale power generation

One of the better ways to lose friends is to suggest some sort of energy solution to doesn't work as advertised.  So generally speaking, I don't make recommendations and if asked directly, tend to respond with conservative bromides like, "Don't buy any technology they aren't selling at Home Depot or Target" and "Leave energy matters to qualified professionals."

However, I have seen some recent examples of small-scale energy production technology that has gotten through my formiable resistance to the very idea of such scale.  I am pretty certain that photovoltaics are now reliable and cost-effective.  The jury is still out on small-scale wind.

The first comes courtesy of my bother who has some new numbers of his long-term project of reducing his electric bill to zero.  With the hottest temps in May since 1937, he was able to run that big house of his for just a touch over $20 including fees.  10 KW of PV cells on the roof will make this happen--along with nearly 20 years of experimenting with energy efficiency.

Then I see that Honeywell has decided to manufacture / endorse a small wind turbine.  It operates without a gearbox--the biggest maintenance headache of wind power.  I have not seen one in operation but it looks like an idea worth exploring.
Windtronics WT 6500 Wind Turbine
Today's wind energy... like no other.
We’ve turned traditional wind turbines, inside out.
Gearless Blade Tip Power System ™ – the future of wind power.

The Honeywell Wind Turbine utilizes a system of magnets and stators surrounding its outer ring, capturing power at the blade tips where speed is greatest, practically eliminating mechanical resistance and drag. Rather than forcing the available wind to turn a generator, the perimeter power system becomes the generator by swiftly passing the blade tip magnets through the copper coil banks mounted onto the enclosed perimeter frame. The Blade Tip Power System ™ addresses past constraints such as size, noise, vibration and output. WindTronics’ proprietary systems are breaking traditional technological barriers across multiple markets, for homes and businesses, for both energy generation and energy recapture even in moderate winds. The Honeywell Wind Turbine is the highest output, lowest cost per kWh installed turbine ever made (in class and size). So powerful, so simple. more

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