The Jellyfish Wind Appliance: Plug-In Wind Power for $400

Despite their decidedly mixed results in practice, there is an ongoing fascination with small-scale wind turbines that you can either mount on your roof or in your yard. One of these turbines which recently caught Google's eye is The Jellyfish Wind Appliance: The turbine is a semi-finalist in Google's Project 10 to the 100th contest.

The interesting thing about this vertical axis wind turbine is its cost, $400, and the fact that it's designed to be plugged straight into a wall outlet. Here's how its designer, Clarian Technologies describes it:36 Inches Tall, 40 kWh Per Month

The Jellyfish Wind Appliance is a small 36-inch tall vertical-axis wind turbine (VAWT) with a solid-state controller and a variable-speed induction generator that plugs directly into an existing wall socket and automatically generates power whenever the wind blows. The Jellyfish can be mounted on rooftops, wind towers or even existing street light poles - which are already pre-wired to the grid and have the tower already in place! And, it can generate up to 40 kWh per month in moderate winds enough to light an average home using energy efficient light bulbs. With a target price under $400 the Jellyfish would be an affordable option for many households and developing communities looking to harness wind power for the first time. Working in tandem with the existing power grid, the Jellyfish enables large-scale distributed-generation, delivering power exactly where its needed and reducing the demand for costly transmission infrastructure.

It's a Nice Idea, But I've Got Doubts About Its Application
I don't want to seem overly down on this product, but frankly it really doesn't produce that much power. Clarian says the payback time is about 7 years, which isn't so bad in the scheme of things, but at Fast Company points out 40 kWh a month really doesn't 'light up' that much in 'an average home'.

Clarian also touts the Jellyfish as being priced low enough that "virtually anyone on the planet [can connect] to a power grid, local community power distribution network or even an off-grid system."

I'll leave aside the fact that for many people on the planet, who could really benefit from off-grid electricity, $400 for a wind turbine is well out of reach.

What I do like is the idea of distributed power generation and community-based power generation, but building mounted wind turbines really aren't the way to go about it. The wind speed variability around buildings, particularly in urban areas, is such that there are doubts as to whether small-scale wind turbines in these circumstances will ever pay back their embedded carbon emissions.

It does look cool though.

via: Fast Company
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