Green energy company Ecotricity is to trial a micro wind turbine which could be up to 40% more efficient than similar sized units already on the market.
The 15m tall vertical-axis wind turbine will undergo six months testing in Stroud, Gloucestershire before undergoing official performance certification at Myres Hill wind turbine test site in Scotland.
Unlike a conventional wind turbine which has blades that rotate like the hands of a clock, a vertical axis turbine has blades that rotate around the unit’s tower and catch the wind, whatever direction it comes from.
According to Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity, most micro wind turbines on the market are simply scaled down versions of large conventional wind turbines and that is a mistake.
“Large windmills rotate on a horizontal axis and do a great job because they turn themselves to track the prevailing winds, but our 20 years of experience have shown us that closer to the ground and in more built up areas, you get completely different conditions with the wind constantly changing direction.
“Micro windmills with that horizontal design spend too much time searching for the wind. A vertical-axis turbine, such as the Urbine, doesn’t care which direction the wind comes from, so is perfect for the more challenging wind conditions where micro windmills get installed,” he added.
“We don’t want people getting disillusioned and becoming sceptical about renewable energy because they buy a micro windmill and it doesn’t work as well as it could.
The Urbine is likely to be available from the first quarter of 2014 after it has been through the Microgeneration Certification Scheme for the UK market.