That Blasted Roof! - Capturing Wind Energy On Your Roof

There are plenty of us who would produce our own energy if it was affordable and aesthetically minimalist. The idea of installing a $50,000, 100-foot tall wind turbine in the back yard is not a proposition that would appeal to many, for instance.

But what if your wind power came from a device that integrated with your roof in such a way that it was barely noticeable? What if it only cost around $4,000? And what if that device provided you with almost all the electricity you ever needed?

You'd certainly consider it, wouldn't you?

Grenada's James Post would love it if you did. His SmartWind RidgeBlaster is a leading entry in GE's ecomagination Challenge; one of several ideas he has in the $200 million competition, which stops accepting ideas on March 15th.

But what is this great idea? It's a horizontal wind turbine that sits along the ridge of your roof, where the turbulence is greatest. No big windmill arms, just a long cylinder-like structure spinning innocuously at the top of your roof, and producing up to 1.8kW of electricity.

Post - who also happens to own an eco resort - says that the RidgeBlaster is still in the lab stage, but once he gets some funding, he'll quickly be ready to test some prototypes. If he is one of the five winners of this challenge, he will automatically pocket $100,000, and if GE show the same level of interest in his design that the voting public have, he could well be offered a commercial relationship with them "in early spring."

See what you think of his design by watching the video below, and then have a look at the other entries and vote for the ones that you believe are "the most promising technologies for our energy future":

Mar 14, 2011
by Anonymous

Complete nonsense

This concept is so riddled with problems I don't even know where to start!

Terrible wind is probable as good a place as any. The "Inventor" mentions turbulence like it's a good thing - it's not! The choppy, inconsistent wind this thing will see will render it virtually useless. My guess is it reaches its 1.8kW rating at somewhere close to 15 m/s. How often will the wind swirl around your roof at over 30mph? Probably 1-2% of the time at best. Add to this the fact that it doesn't rotate to face the wind so the efficiency drops even further, and you get an expensive (and loud) wind chime. Dump some snow and ice on it to make it immobile and you can kiss large portions of the windy winter goodbye.

There's no getting around the FACT that the higher you go, the better the wind becomes, precisely because you eliminate the turbulence created by trees and rooftops. My guess is that once you've realistically accounted for the cost of permitting, materials, trsnsportation, installation, interconnection, metering, maintenance, etc - and then you feed this thing lousy wind speed - you're going to be talking about power in the $0.40/kWh range. That makes its output somewhere in the range of 3-4 times more expensive than the grid.

Bad science, bad economics.

Mar 14, 2011
by Anonymous

Having a bad day Anonymous?

We worked on this project for 18 months and are not impressed by your "guess" that our 1.8 KW rating is at 15 m/s while we specify 10 m/s.

You must also have missed that we introduced a spectacular end user price of 4,000$ @ 1.8 kW including a 3 kW inverter. When we value the inverter at $ 1,600 -which is very competitive, we get to a price per kW of 1.33 $/W. That would be even good at 15 m/s!

Your idea that we would promote turbulence as an advantage is a serious misconception. We mentioned that the funnel effect on the roof is a positive factor while less than optimal prevailing winds and turbulence are the negative factors.

You are the first trying to cynically break down our well researched project. And you do this anonymously, realizing how much damage you do by your post.

I suggest that you wait until we come with field results in the next 6 months and if after that you maintain your critical -if not cynical- position, I invite you to restart the discussion, based upon real data, not unmotivated guesses.