Vertical Axis Wind Turbine Under Construction

Construction is currently under way this month on a rare wind energy project, a 200 kilowatt (kW) vertical-axis wind turbine outside a large residential complex in Michigan.

Vertical axis turbines, as opposed to horizontal axis turbines, are best described as looking like large eggbeaters, where a series of curved, swooping blades capture the wind to spin a centrally mounted, vertically oriented hub. The reality is that the wind power industry worldwide has unilaterally chosen the horizontal axis configuration as the chosen design and all large scale turbines have evolved in that direction. This hasn’t stopped entrepreneurial pioneers like McKenzie Bay International, whose WindStor Power Co. aims to prove that there is indeed more than one option for wind turbine design. WindStor recently secured a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA)with The Ishpeming Housing Commission, which manages the Pioneer Bluff senior citizen apartment complex in Ishpeming, Michigan, where the new turbine will be installed. Contractors are putting the final touches on the large concrete foundation for the turbine and full installation is expected by the end of July. The turbine is designed to rotate at a maximum speed of 50 rpm and reach its rated power output of 200 kW at wind speeds of 12m/s (26.84 mph), says the company, which expects the turbine to produce approximately 500,000 kWh per year in average wind speeds of 7m/s (15.66 mph). “The wind turbine will generate electricity to be fed into the 88 unit low-income senior apartment building, serving as a supplement to the electricity currently supplied by the Upper Peninsula Power Co.,” said Evelyn Valente-Heikkala, executive director of the Ishpeming Housing Commission. “Pioneer Bluff is an all-electric facility, so electricity costs are quite high. The wind turbine will generate more than half of the electricity needed to run the facility.” A state-based organization has helped move the project along. WindStor and more than 60 additional organizations and companies are a part of Michigan GREEN, a group of energy companies and energy consultants, together with government agencies and schools, colleges and universities that have joined forces to champion the cause of providing economic renewable energy generation and education at schools in Michigan and the nation. The project isn’t the first either. Since October of 2004, WindStor has had a similar, yet smaller, 100 kW vertical axis wind turbine operating at the Universite due Quebec en Abitibi-Temiscamingue in Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec, Canada. This latest, however, will be twice the size and a further validation of the design. For more construction photographs, see the second link below.
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