These are vertical axis turbines that operate at lower speeds, lower height, and look much different than conventional wind turbines – they resemble good old-fashioned egg beaters. They operate in close proximity to perpetuate wind and are supposed to be safer for birds and bats, produce less noise pollution, and could be used efficiently in urban areas.
Stanford professor of civil and environmental and mechanical engineering, John Dabiri’s lab is testing these vertical axis turbines that are actually inspired by flocks of birds and schools of fish. “Groups of animals have this whole-is-greater-than-the-parts effect where animals in front create air or water currents that make it easier for those behind to fly or swim,” he explains.
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When compared to the iconic white horizontal axis turbines that tower at over 300 feet tall, these smaller vertical axis turbines are less invasive to the visual landscape and stand at about 30 feet in clusters.