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The new 'Architecture Wind' system is highly efficient, features a bird shield, and looks stylish atop urban roofs.  (Source: Aerovironment)

A series of the devices sits perched atop a city roof. Aerovironment is look to generate interest in preparation to mass produce the product and bring it to market in cities worldwide.  (Source: Aerovironment)
While some wind power may just blow, Aerovironment looks to be sleek and stylish

Wind power is an oft maligned source of alternative energy.  One common complaint aired is that it’s not cost/resource effective.  On a similar track, people often accuse it of producing too little power to be helpful.  Finally, some accuse it of being too obtrusive.  Even some environmentalists knock wind power for allegedly killing birds that fly into the slowly spinning metal turbine blade.

While it can't change such opinions overnight, Aerovironment is looking to slowly warm people to wind power by providing direct solutions to the frequent criticisms. And in the process, it hopes to transform the face of modern cities around the world.

Aerovironment produces building-mounted turbines, smaller than those typically seen on wind farms.  By mounting the turbine structure to the tops of buildings, the benefits are twofold.  First, the cost in resources of building a pole to support the turbine is eliminated.  Secondly, the turbines can be elevated much higher, exposing them to stronger winds.

The nearly silent turbines snap onto the parapet of urban structures, forming a design that Aerovironment calls ‘Architectural Wind’.  The rows of turbines not only catch cross currents, but also the frequent currents that develop up the side of buildings.  The result is a 30 percent increase in energy production and even better, a great savings in hassle, in that the turbines are quick to snap in.

While the system is extremely well designed and efficient, many will be drawn to its style.  The system's curvy design looks more like a modern art sculpture than a cutting edge alternative energy design.  This in turn adds to the urban appeal.  Part of the structure even serves another utilitarian use -- the large metal plate over the turbine acts as a bird shield, in an effort to minimize avian casualties.

Aerovironment describes their product stating, "Architectural Wind is designed to install easily onto the building parapet, operating in plain sight as an attractive complement to the building’s architecture. Additionally, based on its proprietary system design, Architectural Wind turbines rotate at low wind speeds, resulting in a form of ‘kinetic architecture’ that communicates clearly the generation of clean energy. Working alone or in tandem with other renewable energy technologies, Architectural Wind is designed to offer an attractive ROI and cost per kW of installed capacity."

A module weighs 200 lbs, allowing relatively easy installation, but also ensuring that it won't blow away.  They measure 4 feet tall by 4 feet wide.  Installations start at 6 kW of power production and can be scaled up to produce much more.  Almost any rooftop is suitable to the nonintrusive installation.  The product is in development, but the company hopes to mass produce the new turbines on a large scale, making them relatively affordable, and ensuring the systems turn a profit in energy costs.

While wind farms leave some with little to be excited about, Aerovironment's new approach seems an intriguing fit to bring wind power to an urban atmosphere and start cutting costs.  

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RE: I like it
By kfonda on 6/13/2008 3:04:57 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, lets put it on top of one of the fault lines.

Chernobyl irradiated more than 500,000 people between the initial victims and the 100's of thousands of soldiers/ miners, and others called on to try and clean it up. And on top of that the metal cap they put over it was supposed to last 30 years and is already falling apart after only 20 years. According to the Russian authorities involved, If the molten uranium slag had melted through the concrete floor and hit the pooled water underneath, the resulting explosion would have left most of Europe uninhabitable as well as a big chunk of Russia.

Don't get me wrong, I think nuclear done right is a great idea, just look at the nuclear powered subs, but I don't trust the government enough to fund and oversee it safely.

I just don't think the vast majority of people in this country care enough about there jobs to do nuclear the way it needs to be done. Just look at the recent news about the firing of the top military and civilian leaders of the air force. One of the things they were charged with was the undocumented flight of six nuclear weapons across a large part of our country and the disciplining of Navy sub officers for faking documentation about tests on the sub reactor.

With the current level of apathy, corruption, and even stupidity (think reality tv) in this country it would be very difficult to do this safely. When the government still had there own research labs, the people that were there were mostly there because they loved the work they were doing and felt a sense of pride in helping there country (such as the Manhattan Project). None of the engineers or techs were getting rich there. I know this first hand, I worked for the Army Advanced Research Labs for 15 years before the BRAC commission basically shut down our branch by moving it out of state, very few of the talented people made the move, most chose to leave the government instead, this is not the kind of talent that can be replaced easily. Now most of the labs are being shut down or staffed by low bidder contractors. They are closing down Fort Monmouth in NJ which houses the Communications and Electronics Command as well as several other commands that are critical to the support of the soldier in the field, especially during an active war.

Sorry for the rant, but once I got started I just couldn't stop. If you want, I could go on about the people that don't want a wind farm a mile off the New Jersey coast because it might look ugly from there beach front homes.

RE: I like it
By Zoomer on 6/14/2008 12:11:04 AM , Rating: 2
I seriously hope your post was meant as a joke.

Fault line: Just engineer to account for it. No biggie.
Chernobyl & Govt: I didn't know we had these USSR leaders for our goverment.
Corruption: There will always be some of it, and being unveiled is better than having it being kept in the dark.
Govt inattention: I believe most, if not all, power plants are privately owned.

RE: I like it
By SlyNine on 6/15/2008 12:01:19 AM , Rating: 2
Plus Homer Simpson could work at it, Comon I dont care what you say. after like 20 years of working there as safety inspector they never once had a melt down.

"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home
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