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 â€“ 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 affordableâ€”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.