Appropriate Technologies for Removing Barriers to the Expansion of Renewable Energy in Asia: Vertical Axis Wind Turbines

Publication | April 2021

Vertical axis wind turbines are an indispensable type of wind energy technology, which have not yet been fully utilized.

The availability of inappropriate technologies in Asian countries has been a largely ignored factor preventing the expansion of renewable energy in Asia. The promotion of certain expensive types of renewable energy with built-in deficiencies, which detract from their benefits, has served as a disincentive for switching to renewable energy on a large scale.

Horizontal axis wind turbines (HAWTs) account for the bulk of grid-connected wind turbines, but are expensive, gigantic, difficult to install, operate, repair and maintain, and require a large area of land for their operation. They need fast winds to generate power that is not available all the time and have to be shut down during strong winds that are above their “survival speed.” Since they are intermittent sources of power generation, they consequently require backup generators, and these generators usually emit carbon dioxide. Given this reality, it could be concluded that wind turbines are an inappropriate means of power generation, but it is HAWTs, rather than all wind turbines, that have major negative features, making them an inappropriate choice for large-scale power generation, despite their benefits.

Vertical axis wind turbines (VAWTs) are a solution, but they are not yet widely used, and their technology needs further development to address their shortcomings. VAWTs operate with slower wind speeds than the required minimum speed of HAWTs, and with very fast winds. VAWTs are much cheaper and easier to build, install, operate, repair and maintain than HAWTs, do not require a large area of land, and can be installed near each other, in between HAWTs and in urban areas.

Instead of promoting HAWTs, VAWTs should be introduced to Asian countries, where they could also be used in hybrid energy systems with continuous sources of power generation such as hydro dams, and with other intermittent types of renewable energy like solar panels to address their individual intermittency. Investment in their technology should also be encouraged in order to address their shortcomings.


Additional Details

  • Energy
  • China, People's Republic of
  • India
  • Korea, Republic of