June 15th, 2009
By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now
There’s a new wind whirly-gig on the block. You may not recognize him. Unlike those tall towers with outstretched airplane-style propellers, this new guy has a compact stance, a whole new look. Arms tucked in, he whirs more slowly and congregates with just a few others to power a building at time.
This wind power generator, called a vertical axis wind turbine, can be puzzling. Looking at one, it’s difficult to fathom how it works, though it simply uses a different aerodynamic concept than its propeller cousins, catching up winds that come from different directions bouncing along closer to the ground. The idea has actually been around for at least 2,000 years “but it’s just never been made to work very well,” says Michael Hess, CEO of Mariah Power.