Plastic parts maker Cascade Engineering is bringing a small rooftop wind turbine called the SWIFT to North America. The company says the SWIFT is significantly quieter than traditional small wind turbines — less than 35 decibels, compared with 40 to 50 decibels for competing products. The tiny turbine is already available in the UK, Belgium, New Zealand and the Netherlands through its Scottish designer, Renewable Devices. Cascade has licensed the technology to bring it to the U.S.
Several cities, including San Francisco and New York, have called for more small wind systems to be installed on city buildings, so perhaps the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Cascade could be a hit with urban planners concerned about noise pollution from wind turbines. Renewable Devices says the SWIFT is “the quietest wind system currently available,” due to a ring that connects the outer edges of the blades, which causes air to move silently off the rotor.
In North America, Cascade is targeting both commercial and residential building owners, and the company will first offer the product in the Northeast and Great Lakes states. While the company is targeting home owners, it isn’t a DIY product — it requires a professional installer and costs $10,000 to $12,000. For that price, customers get a wind turbine that produces 1.5 kW, or up to 2000 kWh per year, and has a blade diameter of 7 feet.
In the U.S., the market for small-scale wind is still tiny, and most of the wind turbines that get installed are for large wind farms that will sell the power to utilities. But there are still a variety of startups looking to develop products, as the trend of small-scale distributed renewable energy has started to gain momentum. Some of the startups we’ve covered include Quiet Revolution, Mariah Power, Marquiss Wind Power, Helix Wind, and Southwest Wind Power (round up here).