They are small and look more like art than innovation. But the mini-windmills built by a British company could soon be on roofs across Europe and the US -- if German energy giant RWE has its way.
They look a bit like attachments for a gigantic hand-held mixer. But at five meters (16 feet) tall and with a diameter of close to three meters, they are certainly too big for a kitchen cabinet. They would, however, definitely fit in backyards and city parks and on the roofs of houses and office buildings.
And if the German power company RWE has its way, there will soon be thousands of the funny-looking rotors installed in the coming months and years -- in Germany, in Europe and even in the US.
It is not, as one might be tempted to believe, a vast, futuristic art project. Rather, the odd-looking, twisting contraptions are the newest generation of high-tech wind turbines. In contrast to their cousins, these windmills are virtually silent, do not require long blades to catch the wind, and spin no matter which direction the wind is blowing. Even better, their modest size and weight mean they can easily be installed on rooftops -- and they can generate up to 10,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a year, enough to supply two low-energy homes, or a 20 person office, with power.
The rotors are produced in limited numbers by a company called Quiet Revolution located in Great Britain. Founded in 2005, the company has already managed to demonstrate that it may have vast potential. Late last year, the company produced its first rotors, and almost immediately began winning design and technical prizes.
Furthermore, the first model -- known as QR5 -- has been installed on a number of rooftops in England. There is one located on top of Kings College School in Wimbledon and an ever-growing number of high-rise buildings are likewise crowned by the apparatus. A large pub chain has begun installing them as well.
Indeed, the future looks so bright for Quiet Revolution that the German energy giant RWE recently bought a small stake in the company, the share is worth $11 million.