Union College VAWT

In November, 2008, Union College President Stephen C. Ainlay spoke at an event where he featured the grant winners for ten upcoming student projects to help improve the environmentally friendly goals of the college over the next couple of years.

Two grant winners, Kevin Donovan and Malysa Cheng, were tasked with the job to design and manufacture a vertical axis wind turbine. The project was described as the “Design and implementation of a micro-wind turbine to assess wind power generation on theUnionCollege campus.”


Almost exactly two years later, the installation crew from Titan Power Systems had installed three vertical axis wind turbines.

These three 1.2 kilowatt turbines were built by Windspire, a company in Nevada which specializes in building vertical axis wind turbines. The turbines are 33 feet tall, four feet wide and, as you can see in the video, take up very little space as compared to horizontal wind turbines which can have extending guy wires covering a lot of ground.

Watch the video on youtube here: http://youtu.be/d5pek8-9WX8

Check out the complete specifications of the Windspire turbines here.

These small turbines are perfect for residential or light commercial use and officials have estimated that the three turbines will be able to supply approximately 40 percent of all electricity to the athletic complex. This should reduce the college’s electric bill by thousands of dollars per year. It cost the college approximately $35,000 for the turbines including installation. According to the owner of Titan Power Systems, the turbines are made from recycled airline parts.

Vertical axis turbines do have advantages over horizontal wind turbines. One such advantage is the implementation of magnetic levitation technology, extremely useful as this provides very little resistance to the wind. This means the turbine will produce more electricity in less wind. They are also much quieter than the horizontal turbines which can be a noisy nuisance if installed too close to residential areas.


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