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Keele University partnership develops vertical axis turbine for urban environments

Keele University has been working in partnership with McCamley Ltd, a renewable energy company with premises on the Keele campus business park, to develop a new form of vertical axis wind turbine that could be installed in urban environments.

The partnership’s 1kW prototype is still being assessed, but long term, they plan to develop 12kW and 24kW versions aiming to “challenge the perception that wind power technology cannot work in urban environments”.

McCamley believe that the new vertical-axis model reduces noise and ground-vibrations and the turbine has been designed to overcome many of the issues associated with large horizontal – axis turbines seen in wind farms. These turbines rely on a steady wind speed, whereas McCamley’s vertical-axis model is able to cope with the turbulent and variable nature of the gusting wind conditions often found in urban environments.

In these situations, when the wind speed drops below 2-3 metres per second the turbine continues to operate, a point at which traditional models stop and when the wind picks up draw power from the Grid to restart.  The McCamley turbine does not require this power to restart, it is a self starting wind turbine.

“Wind energy has huge potential in the UK, but the traditional horizontal axis wind turbines are neither effective nor suitable for use in urban environments. This leaves a huge gap in the market where businesses, residential blocks and other organisations could be benefiting from energy generated from their rooftops,” says Dr Scott Elliott, CEO of McCamley UK Ltd. “Our new design has the potential to be the new face of wind energy and is completely scalable, from 12kW designs upwards.”

Written by Robin Whitlock


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26 August 2012
While relatively inefficient savonious-style wind mills such as that depicted in the photograph do have some advantages in gusty and turbulent conditions, in general they are just not that effective compared to equivalent-scale small horizontal access wind turbines. Note that savonious wind turbines are the least efficient form of wind generation, less efficient than darrieus style eggbeater horizontal axis wind turbines and much less efficient than horizontal axis triblade wind turbines. Claiming that this is a breakthrough is gross hyperbole.

Bluntly, an equivalent scale horizontal access wind turbine does not need power to start spinning. This is a complete falsehood. You have to scale up to hundreds of times the generating capacity before a horizontal access wind turbine needs external power to overcome inertia of the massive blades.

While vertical axis wind turbines have niches, their proponents should learn to stop attacking other forms of wind generation with falsehoods.

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