Just got wind of The Archimedes ‘Liam’ turbine (oh, yeah, you knew I was going there). This thing is wicked cool looking. It’s loosely based on Archimedes screw principle, which is based on the nautilus shell, which is totally fractalian (damn, I wish I had made that word up) in my books.

liam 2

The Liam F1: 1.5 meters wide, 75 Kg of quiet, energy production for your urban installation. Most turbines operate below 60% (theoretical) maximum efficiency. The Liam operates (theoretically) 80%. This is the big 1500W version. The little one is 200W, .75m across, and 32 kg.

I first saw this as a post on FB, and a friend wondered what the lifespan would have to be ’til the wee turbine paid for itself. So, being the wonk that I am, I did the napkin calculation. The article used the rated power production at 5m/s wind speed (25W) and calculated a miserable 1500kWh annual production. With a cost of $5450 US, that’s hard to justify:  1500kWh * $0.136/kWh (Nova Scotia Power) = $204/yr savings on electricity. Over 20 years, that’s $4,080 at today’s energy prices. As the average wind speed in Halifax is 15m/s, we can assume that annual production would be higher, but I don’t have algorhithm for the production curve on this beastie, so can’t say what that would be. But, given that NSP is going to continue to increase kWh price, and production would likely be higher, we can guestimate that the Liam would have to have a lifespan of 20 years to make back the price tag (big assumption: minimal maintenance).

But that’s not the #1 reason why people buy into renewables. Capital cost aside, anything that doesn’t cost you to operate yet provides you with energy is still profitable, when you put it in context of a fuel-dependent energy source, which always costs you to operate…

OK, so because I’m a complete wonk, I  dove in further. There are 2 models. The one whose production is quoted in the article is the 200W unit, but the one that’s described (and shown in the picture) is the 1500W unit.

The 5m/s wind speed is at the very bottom of the performance curve, just after the turbine cuts in at 2m/s (see performance curve for the 200W unit below). It’s rated at 12m/s and our average wind speed is 15m/s, but let’s say we get 10m/s average in a less than optimum installation. It’s rated to generate 125W at that wind speed (vs 25W at 5m/s). That is wildly better production…just over 7,500 kWh annual production. That’s an annual saving of $1,020 at today’s NSP rates. Now we’re talking. Even accounting for cut-out at +25m/s for 20% of the year, potential production is over 6,000 kWh ($816 in savings). And on top of that, the Archimedes comes in perfect whirligig colours. Very appealing.