Crowdfunding the Urban Turbine

OK, let’s get the full disclosure out of the way before we begin. The project I’m about to punt is the brainchild of a friend of mine. But that’s where it ends. I have no financial ties to him or to the project. I’m just putting this out there because I know he has been working damn hard on this for several years and because I think  it has really positive implications for the local environment and the local economy.

The Urban Turbine is a a vertical wind turbine project that is designed to offer an alternative power source to homes and businesses alike, schools, hospitals and business parks. 100% locally manufactured and supported.
We are in final prototype phase and need to get raw material and a factory setup (once operational we will employ full time staff – job creation of 10-50 people).

With this crowdfunding request, Brian is looking for “just” R10,000 ($1,200/£750/€975) in order to help set up production of the units. There are incentives for those using the startme page to donate, with various discounts on future UT purchases.

Who knows? In a few years, we might (should?) all have one of these in our back garden or on our roof – saving us money while Eskom’s prices keep increasing way beyond inflation and way, way beyond your paycheck. Schools would be able to teach through power cuts (assuming they had textbooks). Hospitals wouldn’t have to worry abut loadshedding and the effect it had on ICU patients.

And wouldn’t it be great if everyone’s turbine was produced in South Africa? Locally-sourced parts and materials being assembled by locally-trained and locally-employed individuals.

With the current state of the economy and high rates of unemployment, what’s not to like with that vision?

You can read more about the Urban Turbine and get in touch with Brian on his Future Power Solutions website.

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The Dangers of Wind Power

I’m not sure how much I believe in the global warming/climate change argument.
However, I do recognise that pollution is a bad thing and therefore that reducing pollution would be a good thing. Thus, I find myself in cautious favour of any steps being taken towards the reduction of pollution.

Wind power is one of those steps. Good old renewable energy.
Less dirty than coal, less challenging than solar, less dangerous than nuclear – or is it?

Take for example, this NY Times article in which it is stated that Britain could become a global leader in electricity production from offshore wind farms by 2020:

Britain could become the largest producer of electricity from offshore wind by the end of the next decade, according to the Carbon Trust, a group funded by the British government.
With carefully targeted subsidies and regulations, Britain could build 29 gigawatts of capacity compared to a global total of 66 gigawatts by 2020, giving it 45 percent of the offshore power market, said the Carbon Trust. By comparison, Germany would have 12 gigawatts by 2020, the group said.

All sounds very promising – even if Vestas is about to go under. But have these sort of plans really been thought through thoroughly? Not according to concerned, angry and apparently terminally stupid commenter Lyle Vos:

I am very concerned that these wind farms will affect the natural wind patterns thereby affecting weather patterns. A consensus of my friends who are scientists believe that a wind farm of this scale will shift the earth off its rotational axis and send it hurtling toward the sun in a matter of decades. Who stupid are these Brits? Don’t they realize that human actions on such a scale have worldwide consequences? Such an attempt to destroy the planet should be considered an act against humanity and declaration of war. Where is the condemnation from the UN?

Where indeed? What are the UN doing ignoring this blatant act against humanity and declaration of war against the entire planet?

As a scientist, I’d like to meet with Lyle’s “friends who are scientists”, partly to discuss with them their hypotheses regarding the shifting of the planet from its rotational axis due to the suddenshift of meteorological patterns, but mainly just to see if they exist.
And of course, hurtling towards the sun will also probably make the world hotter, thereby negating any of the positive effects of reducing the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity. Which won’t help either.

Having given the matter a lot of thought, I think that the only way to combat these terrible implications is to build an equally big wind farm on the other side of the world and have it running the other way.