Unique two-bladed turbine makes Wisconsin debut
July 28, 2011
Randy Faller – email@example.com
Maureen Faller – maureen.fallergmail.com
Kettle View Renewable Energy
Wind turbines come with three blades, right? Not the unique Scottish-built Gaia turbine installed near Neenah by Kettle View Renewable Energy, LLC, of Random Lake.
“You might do a double-take when you first see it,” admits Randy Faller, owner of Kettle View.
The electricity production from the first two-blader installed in Wisconsin and fourth in the United States has been “incredible,” according to Faller, “even during last June, when winds were really light.” And it’s quieter than other small turbines.
At wind speeds between 9 and 14 miles per hour, the 11-kilowatt Gaia in the Town of Clayton, Winnebago County, will out perform a turbine rated at 20 kilowatts. With a little more fine-tuning, Faller expects even better production. “It’s only been up a month and a half,” Faller said.
“No single turbine on the market fills every need at every site. Every brand of turbines has advantages and disadvantages. The Gaia (pronounced GUY-ah) works well in locations with lower wind speeds,” commented Faller, “like we have at many Wisconsin locations.”
Part of the Gaia’s generating power comes from longer blades than those on a three-bladed turbine. With a rotor diameter of 42.6 feet, the two-bladed Gaia can capture up to 80% more energy, according to the U.S. distributors Web site (www.tacoelectronics.com).
“Hundreds of Gaia turbines have been installed throughout Europe since the turbine was first developed in Denmark in the 1990s,” explained Faller.
Equipped with a durable gearbox, well-built mechanics, and streamlined design, Faller expects the Gaia to perform reliably during Wisconsin’s winters.
However, Wisconsin’s future for wind energy doesn’t look bright for Gaia or any other turbine, according to Faller, who calls the current situation “scary.”
The Legislature suspended statewide standards for permitting wind energy systems. “The small wind section of those standards was a great thing. Towns and counties could use it as a guide. Now everything’s open to interpretation when a landowner applies for a permit,” Faller said.
He also expects his business to be hurt by budget cuts imposed by the Legislature on Focus on Energy, Wisconsin’s ratepayer-funded energy efficiency and renewable programs. Individual utility support for customer-sited renewable systems has also been cut back.
“My wife and I built the business to the point where we employ three other full-time employees, one part-timer, and occasionally subcontract some work. If we don’t have work in Wisconsin, we’ll go out of state. But why should I have to leave my own state to work?”
Prior to starting Kettle View in 2006, Faller “got tired of sitting behind a desk. It’s exciting,” he says, “to make our own power right in your own backyard.”