New Revolution in Wind Power
As soaring oil prices and greenhouse gas emissions fuel the search for cheaper and cleaner sources of energy, a Japanese aerospace manufacturer may have found the right stuff for a solution. It’s a windmill you can call your very own. Yokohama-based aerospace manufacturer, Nippi Corporation, has developed a revolutionary 20 kW wind turbine power generation system that’s turning heads everywhere.
Well known in Japan as a manufacturer of precision aerospace components, Nippi’s launch of this proprietary wind power system marks the company’s first foray into the field of commercial wind power applications. The same cutting-edge ingenuity that goes into its aircraft parts can be seen at work behind the new windmill known as a vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT). If you’ve never seen a VAWT, imagine one of those fashionable plastic pop bottle wind spinners sported by many a tree throughout suburbia, only a lot bigger and with 20 kW of power, a whole lot better. This is definitely not your garden variety whirligig. Its small, sleek, aerodynamic design makes it the perfect fit for the city landscape with the potential for installations on building rooftops as well as in harbors, parks and maybe even your backyard. You don’t have to worry about the neighbors complaining either. The system’s airfoils rotate at such a low speed, it’s as quiet as can be. Like other VAWTs, the system doesn’t depend on which way the wind is blowing and has a generator and gearbox that sits close to the ground to make repairs and maintenance easy.
Nippi’s wind power system has been up and running at a site located next to Japan’s Nikaho Highland Wind Farm in Aichi Prefecture where Japan’s National Institute of Polar Research (NIPR) will put it to the test before installing it at its Antarctic research station. The NIPR deal is all part of Japan’s goal under the Kyoto Protocol to tap renewable energy sources and bring its greenhouse gas emissions down 6% below 1990 levels. As part of that equation Japan had hoped to produce 3,000 MW of wind power annually by 2010 but with only 1,880 MW of annual output under its belt as of 2008 it is woefully shy of the mark. According to statistics from the Global Wind Energy Council, Japan doesn’t even make it to the top ten list of world wind power producers. Among the major obstacles to wind power in this resource-strapped island nation, including typhoons, grid integration, and red tape, is a dearth of local turbine suppliers. Nippi should give the country a leg up in overcoming that last hurdle as the aerospace company aims to take wind power in Japan to new heights.
Written by J.T. Cassidy