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Vertical Axis Wind Turbines

July 1, 2013
Paul Gipe

Mein Gott! Costly VAWT Installed on Cologne High-Rise


I’ve written a lot about the folly of “building integrated” wind turbines, or the corollary, roof top wind turbines. It’s a plague here in the US, Britain, and the Netherlands.

To reiterate, the installations never perform well, perform as advertised, or even work most of the time. Often the wind turbines consume more electricity than they generate. In sum, they are an odd and expensive form of greenwashing.

I never thought I’d have to write about the Germans doing something so stupid. Apparently, they put their lederhosen on the same way we do.

So, there it was in a recent issue of Sonne Wind & Wärme an article titled “Spinning energy out of thin air” with a picture of a Vertical Axis Wind Turbine (VAWT) being installed on 15-story building with the Cologne cathedral in the background.

I am sure the author doesn’t know that the title can have another meaning in English—spinning a yarn out of nothing. And that’s pretty much what we have here.

The direct drive CleanVerTec of Vienna was being installed by the Landschaftsverband Rheinland (LVR) in Köln-Deutz. The Turnkey project cost a whopping 38.000 Euros ($50,000).

It should annoy Germans that LVR had to go to Austria for the turbine despite the fact that there’s a company in Germany that had installed VAWTs in California. See Crissy Field Small VAWT Demonstration.

Regardless, it’s an expensive experiment to again prove that roof top wind turbines—of any kind—don’t perform well and that small VAWTs are far too expensive for commercial use.

Commercial wind turbines today generate electricity for approximately $1 of installed cost per kilowatt-hour of annual generation. (This is a metric for comparison, not what anyone pays for the electricity.) This VAWT will—at best—generate electricity at $10 per kWh of annual generation. In other words it is TEN times more costly than a commercial wind turbine today.

The question then becomes why use it?

Why indeed?

Mein Gott!


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