People who oppose wind turbines are lame

I'm a big fan of wind power. No, it's not a magical solution to all energy problems. Wind turbines are a worthwhile component of a cleaner, more efficient energy grid.

As large-scale wind turbines become more popular, cost is going down and efficiency is going up. As far as I can tell, the main argument against the big windmills is that they despoil the landscape. It turns out they don't really kill that many birds.

After seeing a few in action in Mackinaw, Michigan and on a trip to New York, I'm not sure what all the fuss is about. They're actually pretty graceful – the new ones are so large that they don't need to spin like a propeller to generate a lot of power.

In any event, if the biggest problem is a matter of personal aesthetics, wind has a leg up on, for example, burning coal. So to those opposing the turbines, I have to say the argument against is pretty lame.

I've toyed with the idea of installing solar panels on my roof, but at my latitude, it's hard to justify. But what about installing a personal wind turbine? Rather than a familiar windmill-style turbine, a vertical axis wind turbine might just do the trick.

It looks like it's possible to build a small one, but I'm not sure how well the design (or my skill) would scale. I did run across a company called Mag-Wind that produces a really cool looking rooftop mounted vertical turbine . In addition to the advantages of vertical turbines, they claim that situating it on the ridge of a pitched roof offers additional benefits.

I'm not really sure I can buy one, though. The only dealer I can find is on Ontario, Canada. Maybe I'll drop them an email. I would be a little less skeptical if their site has photos of a working installation.

There are a lot of companies out there selling personal, home-sized or farm-sized wind turbines. I guess I'll have to do some more looking, and then a bunch of angry math to see if it's affordable—I'm not as worried about making a profit in the long term as I am being able to afford such a cool tech toy in the first place.

Of course, we could always cover the world's deserts with solar panels.

  1. Hey, if you buy one, take a pic on your roof and put it up on the site. That would be super cool to see. It’s a bummer that solar panaling doesn’t do more. I wonder if there is a way to make it more efficient. I mean, at best the solar panalaling only creates a low reserve and is limitied to the daylight. If it’s cloudy…well, whatever. It would be a little more convenient than having big turbines. But in the future if there is an apcolypse, then you are set with your own electic. And turbines look very post apcolyptic.

    S. H. Skuld
    September 6th, 2006 at 8:01 am
  2. Put a thousand pinwheels on your roof and see how much power it geenrates. Im sure the city council would love it too.

    D Wallz
    September 8th, 2006 at 11:02 am
  3. Just as long as they don’t put any on the cape (Cape Cod) like those pesk democrats are talking about. It would totally distract from our mimosas and hot tubing.

    Ryan M
    September 10th, 2006 at 9:26 pm
  4. Governments need to get smart and offer people tax credits, or long-term no-interest loans, or some other shrewd financial offsets along those lines, to install solar panels, wind turbines, and other green energy producers on their own property. If you go to, and look for City Light (the publicly owned electric utility), I think they have a lot of good information and technical assistance for people wanting to produce their own green energy. In fact, the largest wind farm in the US straddles the Washington-Oregon border (see blog post I did on August 1, 2006). I was just in Toronto, and they have a few big turbines along the north shore of Lake Ontario.

    Another advantage of net metering is that it precludes the need for individual residential consumers to fuss with batteries and storing surplus energy. When I first looked into solar years ago, that was a big deterrent. Now there’s no reason for it. You should be able to be credited on your utility bill the next month for any surplus energy you produce. The Washington Post had a neat long article a while back, I want to say in 2002, about people in the region who were making their homes ultra-green. I was really fascinated by one in suburban MD who made his home so energy efficient, coupled with net metering for producing his own power, that his net electric bill per year was 0.

    Sandwich Repairman
    September 20th, 2006 at 7:15 pm
  5. Man, I’m stumped by all these complex mathematical equations!

    Different energy sources work better in different places. Depends on climate, sunlight, topography, etc. Solar is awesome in Colorado (and probably all up and down the Rockies, especially down SW) where they get 300 days of sun per year. Gray Ohio, or gray Seattle where I’m moving, wouldn’t work. But wind and hydro still have potential. One size doesn’t fit all–that’s one of the outdated premises of the fossil fuel paradigm that we have to change. In New Jersey, for example, we may need to come up with a way for garbage and HIV-positive hypodermic needles to produce electricity. ;)

    Sandwich Repairman
    September 20th, 2006 at 7:20 pm
  6. i sell vertical turbines for ehergy sorta,we do 1kw,3kw,5kw,10kw and waiting for 50kw to start thay look nice compeard with others on the market and ours are proving to run 30%better than first expectide thay cost from 5,995 to 125,000 which funds are out there councils have to suport going green in this day and age our 3kw will fuel 3,3bed homes which meens no more electric fuel bills,and in most put power back into gride which electric companys pay you ,now thats got to better,warren at 01472240990

    warren taylor
    September 9th, 2008 at 11:41 am

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