The first time I saw the QR5 was on Inhabitat last year, and ever since then, my thoughts have occasionally wandered back to its simple, elegant design. Now, in April 2007, this UK-based innovation is one the recipients of the 3rd Annual Bottom Line Design Awards. Pictured on the cover of Business 2.0, the QR5 is referred to as "The Personal Power Plant." The QR5 can generate about 800 kilowatt-hours a month in 13-mph winds and costs about $48,000. Back of the envelope-style, the payback is about 18 years. According to Quietrevolution’s designer, Richard Cochrane, prices will go down with volume sales and about 70-80 wind turbines will be installed in the coming year.
About the QR5:
Looking at the helix portion alone, the turbine is about 9 feet tall x 15 feet wide (but various different sizes are also in development). Here’s how the parts work: (1) three ‘S’ shaped blades are tapered to shed noise, (2) the vertical axis easily integrates into existing buildings and structures, (3) the helical design captures turbulent winds and eliminates vibration, (4) central compression spar, dependent on conditions, (5) the blades, spars, and torque tube are made of strong carbon fiber, and all moving parts are sealed to minimize maintenance, and (6) the direct drive in-line generator has auto-shutdown and peak power tracking, which is incorporated into the mast. The QR5 is expected to have a life of about 25 years, assuming annual inspections. Feel free to click on over to get the finer details on noise + vibration, connecting to the grid, and mounting in various applications.
I think it’s fantastic, but I do have one concern. It’s UK-based. Localization is the new globalization because carbon emissions have changed the rules of the game. If this thing is going to get big, and I believe it can, there must be US-based production. I understand Quietrevolution is working on their non-UK patents, so establishing an American presence may be the company’s next step. I hope it is, because I can’t stop thinking about it. That’s what good design does. It changes the way we see the game being played.