Apart from solar energy, the other major form of renewable energy generation is with the use of wind. Generating energy from wind is nothing new and wind turbines today are a common sight in many parts of the world. Wind, unlike solar energy, is available throughout the day and hence is a much more reliable way to produce clean energy. Moreover, the cost of energy generated by a wind turbine is comparatively less than the same amount of energy produced by a solar photovoltaic installation or solar thermal power plant.
However, wind turbines too have their drawbacks, ranging from high maintenance cost to the threat the spinning blades pose to birds. Vertical axis wind turbines were hence proposed to solve these crucial problems, while improving the overall energy generating aspect of wind power. Here are a few reasons why vertical axis wind turbines prove to be a better deal than the conventional horizontal axis wind turbines.
What is a vertical axis wind turbine?
If you have seen a wind turbine with three blades spinning in the air, you have seen a horizontal axis wind turbine. The main difference between the conventional horizontal axis wind turbines at the comparatively modern vertical axis one is the placement of the blades. In the horizontal axis turbine, the blades are mounted on the top of the shaft and spin in the air to drive a motor installed right behind the hub of the blades to generate energy. On the other hand, in vertical axis wind turbines, the blades are mounted at the base of the tower, while being wrapped around the shaft. Here, the energy generating motor is installed near to the base.
Benefits of vertical axis wind turbines:
Although both vertical and horizontal axis wind turbines are efficient enough to produce a steady stream of electrons, vertical axis wind turbines are still considered better because of the following reasons:
- In a vertical axis wind turbine, the generator and the gearbox are mounted towards the base and hence maintenance cost of the generator and the gearbox is comparatively less as comparted to the conventional wind turbine where they are located at the top of the shaft.
- Since in the vertical axis wind turbine the blades are wrapped around the shaft, they are normally safer for birds. In a horizontal axis wind turbine, the blades spin in the air causing all sorts of problems for birds.
- Unlike horizontal axis wind turbines, which have to be positioned strategically to ensure that wind strikes the blades at the right angle, vertical axis wind turbines can make use of wind from any and all directions to generate electricity. This not only adds to their efficiency, but also allows them to be installed in areas with variable wind direction.
- People living in the neighborhood of a conventional horizontal axis wind turbine often complain of the constant noise and vibration that their spinning blades produce. To the contrary, vertical axis wind turbines operate a lot more silently and do not cause any vibrations to trouble people living in their close proximity. This silent and vibration-free operation makes vertical axis wind turbines a better option for placement in urban areas.