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A design approach to help Vertical Wind Turbines reach peak speeds and generate more energy in the same winds as conventional counterparts.



Wind turbines offer a source of renewable energy that helps reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions in the production and use of electricity. Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (VAWT) have the advantage of being owned on small scales, installed relatively close to ground levels and requiring less maintenance frequency and costs than their Horizontal Axis Wind Turbines (HAWT) counterpart.

However, energy production is most times proportional to how fast the turbines rotate in prevailing winds. This proposal gives a scientific and design approach to help VAWT's spin faster, reach peak speeds and produce more energy.

The proposal aims to provide a method of making small VAWT more energy efficient, thereby reducing SMEs emissions and providing more energy at the same cost of purchasing off the grid. The following methods are in consideration:

  1. Vortex Surfing
  2. Downdraught Effect
  3. Piezoelectric Effect

Vortex Surfing

Vortex surfing has been observed in nature in the V formation of migrating birds. Birds fly in the upwash from wingtip vortices of birds in front of them in order to conserve energy.

By Hamid Hajihusseini -, CC BY 3.0,










Adapting this to wind energy, the following is proposed:

  • Use of lift based helical VAWT which produces tip vortices at outer blade tips
  • Use of several smaller sized helical VAWT which have a total area coverage as a single larger helical VAWT

Downdraught Effect

Buildings in urban spaces accelerate winds around their bases, tops and corners. This happens when air blows on the face of buildings and are forced up, down or sideways of the buildings. The resulting winds are relatively unidirectional and faster than they were before hitting the building and sometimes result into gust. This proposal seeks to exploit these faster winds by lining several VAWT's at corners or rooftops to receive these rushing winds.

Piezoelectric Effect

Certain materials have been discovered to produce electricity when forces are applied on them. Ambient energy in vibrations from the wind turbines will be harnessed to produce some energy.


How do you know that your solution is desirable to SMEs, and will reduce GHG emissions?

One of the barriers this solution will overcome is the elimination of overhead energy costs as a result of transmission through the grid network as energy is produced in-situ area of usage. There is also less energy loss that is commonly associated with the transmission of energy over networks.

Reduced cost of mounting poles as seen in conventional vertical and horizontal turbines.

Often VAWT do not meet up to their manufacturer's rated performance. This solution will help VAWT reach higher speeds more frequently and produce more energy. This makes more energy available, translating to lesser costs and more power for their money.

Technically, all wind turbines create a tip vortex and creates up/downwash which is lost to the immediate atmosphere. This solution allows trailing blades of other turbines ride in their upwash just as is seen in the V formation of birds in flight. The peculiarity of its use in VAWT is that, instead of series of turbines reducing their speed and gaining the upwash to maintain the speed of their leader, the turbines both gain the upwash and use up current wind speeds thereby increasing overall VAWT system speed in an increasing sequence similar in manner to a fibonacci series. The method of re-routing airflow throw fluid systems seen in Vortex surfing has also been used in military flight missions to reduce fuel consumption and in vehicles with turbo engines for fuel efficiency. 10% fuel savings was recorded by NASA in experiments adopting V formation to air craft flight, a concurrent 10% minimum increase in efficiency is predicted through this method.

Wind speeds have been discovered to accelerate at the edges of buildings. Arranging turbines at these edges provide higher wind speeds for producing more energy than if turbines were placed anywhere else or at mere ground level. Gusts have been measured at 30km/h at a corner of the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto and 5km/h at another. This reveals chances of available effective winds about 6 times faster than at other parts of the city.

Combining the above, the option of energy costs lesser than its purchase off the Ontario energy grid or more energy for the same price they used to purchase when compared to conventional wind energy methods. The solution is not a totally new method but just improvements in practice and design thus, it fits into existing modes of harnessing wind energy.

This method ensures a typical $6,000 VAWT produces its rated 1KW enough to power 10 PCs simultaneously at all times as opposed to almost half power provided by former turbines. A system of 10 = 100 working PCs

The end users of this solution are owners of multi-tenant buildings and office based businesses. Office activities mainly consume energy from the use of computers, mobile devices, office equipment and lighting. This solution can supplement or replace grid demand for energy usage directly connected to business activities involving usage of lower energy consuming devices mentioned above.


What actions do you propose?

The three bladed Helical lift based Vertical Axis Wind Turbine is reported to have the best efficiency available presently and is selected for this project.

A business as Legal Entity, "Airxtra" will be formed to handle piloting and production.
A partnership will be formed with a manufacturing and fabrications company related to small vertical wind turbine in or close to Ontario. One of such company has been discovered in nearby Montreal, Quebec, which is East of Ontario. This will be done to enable the modification and production of Helical lift based Vertical Axis Wind Turbines and fittings to mount the turbines. Simulations will also be done at the Building Aerodynamics / Wind Tunnel Lab at the nearby Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec in order to obtain data to assist in prototyping wind turbines.


1st Stage - Manufacturing

As stated above, Vortex Surfing, Downdraught Effect and Piezoelectric Effect will be used to improve efficiency of power generation through the wind.

Vortex Surfing

Migrating birds in V formation are known to produce tip vortices from the tip of their wings in flight. Similarly, lift based wind turbines also produce tip vortices. Tip vortices in bird V formations are harnessed to provide additional lift to other birds asides flapping of wings and this helps improve flight efficiency in flying flocks. Tip vortices in wind turbines are hardly harnessed and are let off into the atmosphere.

Notice the direction of the arrow of the tip vortice directed and pushing upwards, subsequently lifting aligned bird upward

Notice the trailing tip vortice at the tip of the blade let out to the free atmosphere

Notice the tip vortices at the top and bottom tips of the blade let out into the free atmosphere

Action: Several smaller lift based helical VAWT's, scaled down to half and also a third of conventional vertical wind turbines(half and a third for two scales of testing) will be manufactured for the pilot test. Turbines of the same scale will  arranged in series (one on top of the other) with adequate spacing. During operation, the turbines behind would ride the tip vortices from the blades of other turbines before them in the series arrangement. This riding causes additional lift to that gotten from normal wind flow hence causing them to rotate faster. Since all turbines will be connected together, their increased speed drives a towing effect on VAWT's before them thereby causing the whole system to accelerate faster than under natural wind induced lift.

Helical VAWT's arranged in series

Downdraught Effect

Buildings in urban landscapes induce varying air pressures around them. Winds striking their surfaces move faster at their tops, sides and bottoms and are faster at these points.

Notice the increased Pressure Gradient of the wind once it crosses the top of the building

Roof tops will be selected for this project because this position sites turbines away from pedestrian interference, consume the least real estate and are safer up high.

Series of Helical VAWT's on roof top of building

Fittings will be fabricated to attach turbines to one another in series and to mount them to buildings roof tops.


Piezoelectric Effect

During simulations, areas of high turbulence in the wake of air dispelled by the turbine will be discovered and appropriate fittings will hold piezoelectric materials in such positions so that the vibrate and produce electricity in said turbulence areas.

Eventually the turbines would rotate electromagnetic engines which would produce energy and rectifier circuits would extract energy from the piezoelectric materials. All these would be connected to a power inverter which converts produced electricity from Direct to Alternating Current at approved power ratings and be used to service office buildings.

2nd Stage - Analysis

I propose the following actions:

  • Wind measurement and analysis & Assessment of buildings edges with high downdraught
  • Modification and manufacturing of existing design of Vertical Axis Wind Turbine Prototype
  • Initial pilot testing, public perception and consumer feedback
  • Remodification of Vertical Axis Wind Turbine Prototype with respect to general analysis and feedback
  • Second pilot testing
  • Publication of efficiency reports and user experiences of pilot customers
  • Production, Sales and Services

Wind measurement and analysis: Wind observation, modelling and analysis would be taken in order get the wind distribution in Ottawa and Toronto, Ontario. This information will help mounting the turbines at optimum height with respect to wind speed and obstruction.

Assessment of buildings edges with high downdraught:

The data gotten from the two analysis would help create prototypes suited for businesses, landscape & environment and long term sustainability of the product.

Modification and manufacturing of existing design of Vertical Axis Wind Turbine Prototype:

Initial pilot testing, public perception and consumer feedback:

Production of a few units and randomly testing the usage and public perception of the product and measuring energy production.

Remodification of Vertical Axis Wind Turbine Prototype with respect to general analysis and feedback:

Feedback from testing would help modify prototypes to a final product.

Publication of efficiency reports and user experiences of pilot customers: Efficiency reports of the improved VAWT system will be published alongside initial customer experiences in order to gain public trust and persuade prospective customers.

Production, Sales and Services:

We'll start selling, reduce SMEs cost and making earnings for business sustainability. Sales to building owners would be on total outright purchase of turbine systems or rent-to-own financial plans which might include additional interest charge. Part financing may also be obtained from the government of Ontario in form of collaboration or subsidy payment on turbine systems. Sales would be based on pre orders until company is financially capable of handling post orders.

Who will take these actions?

  • Canadian Wind Energy Association: Advisory on Wind Energy usage in Ontario
  • Property owner of office buildings
  • Government Agency related to Energy: Advisory on Energy use in Ontario
  • Government Agency related to Building and Urban Development: Advisory on development of urban spaces in Ontario
  • Government Agency related to environment: Advisory on Environmental matters in Ontario
  • Architect
  • Meteorologist
  • Animal breeder (birds)
  • Business Development Officer: Promoting sales of new VAWT systems
  • Fabrication and manufacturing company: Consultancy, design and positioning of wind turbines in Toronto and Ottawa
  • City Heads: Involvement of the Public Service
  • Wind Tunnel Lab: Consultancy, design, positioning  and weather and seasonal scenarios of wind turbines in Toronto and Ottawa
  • Building Technologist
  • IT and Infrastructure Personnel

Author Roles:

Adebayo Akinbi: Team Leader and Meteorologist. Responsible for wind analysis, correspondence with government agencies, consultants, and manufacturers. Supervising modification of VAWT and handling of its logistics to Ottawa and Toronto.

Adedoyin Akinbi: Animal Breeder/Business Development officer. Responsible for assisting in optimized arrangement of smaller VAWT. Marketing of new VAWT, collecting customer feedback and energy usage data.

Adefemi Akinbi: Architect. Responsible for assisting in manufacturing of fittings of VAWT to buildings. Mounting turbines to buildings or open space. Analysis of buildings with high downdraught.

Olalekan Balogun: Assist Architect in manufacturing of fittings of VAWT to buildings. Mounting turbines to buildings or open space. Analysis of buildings with high downdraught.

Sowemimo Damilola: Responsible for IT infrastructure and website

Where will these actions be taken?

Modification and manufacture of Vertical Axis Wind Turbine will be done in a company renowned in the manufacture of wind turbines East of Ontario in Quebec, Canada and turbines shipped to Ontario. 

The solution will be piloted in Ottawa and Toronto in Ontario, Canada. The city will be surveyed in order to find

  • Locations of existing wind turbines in order to be compared with new installed turbines.
  • Location of office buildings fit for mounting of pilot improved Vertical Axis Wind Turbine.
  • Open space

What are the proposal’s projected costs?

Creating Legal Entity - $1000

Intellectual Property - $10,000

Accommodation and Logistics of Team - $20,000

Technical consultation of energy and building experts - $10,000

Wind measurement and analysis - $4000

Assessment of buildings with respect to high downdraught - $4000

Modification, manufacturing and shipping of existing design of Vertical Axis Wind Turbine Prototype and fittings to building - $30,000

Initial pilot testing, Monitoring, public perception and consumer feedback - $101,000

IT infrastructure and Website, Production, Sales and Services - $70,000

Total sum - $250,000


Once the solution is built and implemented describe a path forward for it to scale to other users/companies.

Once it is built and after successful pilot, the following will be done:

  • Advertising of the project as an improvement to current wind energy infrastructure and new purchase.
  • Fund raising, seeking investors and selling of company shares
  • Establishment of manufacturing line of the project’s new turbines and building fittings 
  • Sales
  • Repair and maintenance of improved Vertical Axis Wind Turbines
  • Resale to energy grid
  • Energy consultancy

How will your solution lead to change on a larger scale over time (i.e. 3 to 5 years out)? How many businesses can potentially be affected by your solution?

  • It will improve the reliance of off grid energy supply.
  • It will reignite the production and sale of Vertical Axis Wind Turbines which are generally easier and cheaper to maintain and repair and reduce emissions faster at lower costs.
  • It will spur further research, design and development of Vertical Axis Wind Turbines.
  • New source of Ontario exports.

What business and funding model have you considered for your solution to become sustainable?

  • Repair and maintenance of improved Vertical Axis Wind Turbines
  • Energy storage for continuous supply of energy
  • Resale to energy grid
  • Energy consultancy


What impact will the proposed actions have on reducing greenhouse gas emissions?

The proposed action

  • Reduces energy loss that is commonly associated with the transmission of energy over long distances.
  • Encourages production of clean energy on small scales.


What are other key benefits?

Vertical Axis Wind Turbines could provide useful wind breakers for gusts that occur close to the surface of office buildings.

Aesthetics and acceptance of smaller wind turbines

About the Authors

Meteorologist/Team Leader:

Adebayo Akinbi is a Meteorologist and has experience working for the Lagos State Ministry of the Environment, Lagos, Nigeria as a scientific officer. He has been involved in weather and climate observations and analysis with over 5 years experience in matter of the environment. He was part of the team that reviewed the Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene Policy for Lagos State in 2017. He also has some knowledge of hardware and an enthusiast of the maker culture.

Animal Breeder:

Adedoyin Akinbi holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Breeding and Genetics. He has had experiences as a farm manager and also in business as a manager for graphics and photography talents and interfacing with customers, as well as social media and online marketing.


Adefemi Akinbi, owner and founder FemArc Studios, Design and 3D Visualization firm in Lagos, Nigeria. He is an Interior designer and Architect. He had his Undergarduate degree in Architecture at the University of Lagos, Nigeria and Masters in Environmental Design in view. Adefemi has over 6 years of experience in freelance 3D design and construction. Adefemi is an entrepreneur at heart skilled in multiple design software and furniture design.

Related Proposals (optional)


By Hamid Hajihusseini - BY 3.0,

Andersson, Malte & Wallander, Johan. (2004). Kin selection and reciprocity in flight formation?. Behavioral Ecology. 15. 158-162. 10.1093/beheco/arg109.

Y. Amini, H. Emdad and M. Farid (2016) Piezoelectric energy harvesting from vertical piezoelectric beams in the horizontal fluid flows

Rudolf Dvorák (2016). Aerodynamics of bird flight, Institute of Thermomechanics v.v.i.,Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, 18200 Prague 8,The Czech Republic

Y Bazilevs, A Korobenko, X Deng, J Yan, M Kinzel, and JO Dabiri, "Fluid–structure interaction modeling of vertical-axis wind turbines", Journal of Applied Mechanics 81 (8), 081006, 2014.

Y Bazilevs, A Korobenko, X Deng, and J Yan, "Novel structural modeling and mesh moving techniques for advanced fluid–structure interaction simulation of wind turbines", International Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering 102 (3-4), 766-783, 2014.

Marco Casini, "Small Vertical Axis Wind Turbines for Energy Efficiency of Buildings", Journal of Clean Energy Technologies, Vol. 4, No. 1, January 2016

Taylor, Katharin C., "Method for VAWT placement on a complex building structure", Calhoun: The NPS Institutional Archive DSpace Repository, 2013