Connell, who's originally from New Zealand but now splits his time between Germany and Scotland, began work on his vertical wind turbine project back in 2013. The inventor got the chance to perfect his project this October, when hundreds of inventors, designers and engineers gathered in a French castle for "Poc 21". The event's organisers describe it as an innovation camp aimed at promoting the idea of a "zero-waste society", as well as the creation of open-source products that anyone can build. Connell's wind turbine is composed of a wooden frame that supports a bike wheel with three blades attached to it. He's also made a prototype with six blades.
To show others how it's done, Connell has created a meticulous 52-step tutorial, available in both written and video formats, that sets out in detail how to build the turbine. Following the instructions, a team of two people can have their own wind turbine up and running in around six hours. What's more, it will only set you back about 30 euros, which is enough to pay for the tools and materials. Compare that with the price of a regular home wind turbine , which can cost upwards of $30,000 (€28,000).
Connell's DIY turbine won't allow households to meet all their energy needs with wind alone. But it could, for example, produce a few dozen kilowatts of electricity, or power a home water pump. However the inventor says it only takes a few prototypes to start making big energy savings, a contribution which he believes could help tackle climate change.
"With a few wind turbines and enough wind, a house can become energy self-sufficient"
I was inspired by a model that already exists. I worked for a year and a half trying to make this type of home wind turbine both easier to put together and more economical. In the end, I ended up designing a prototype that costs around five times less than the original model and can be built by anyone in a fairly short amount of time.
I'm not an engineer – I'm actually trained as a 3D graphic designer. I’m sure experienced handymen will build my wind turbine more quickly than others, but anyone can do it. If you take a look at the list of tools needed, the most complicated one is without a doubt the electric drill. That's really not hard to use!
Along with its cheap price and the ease with which it can be built, I think this wind turbine has several advantages. It works even when you can hardly feel the wind yourself. It's also fairly sturdy: it has three blades that can withstand winds of up to 80km/h. And the model with six blades can withstand winds of up to 105km/h, which is very powerful.
"It could help reduce energy shortfalls around the world"
With an average wind speed of 60km/h, a six-blade wind turbine can produce around 100 watts of energy in little time. That's enough to charge four laptops, for example. Assuming that the wind speed stays fairly constant for a few hours, it could even produce a kilowatt of energy, enough to fulfil the energy needs of a house for one day. Of course, that's just the theory. In practice, a constant wind speed of 60km/h is fairly strong, and everything depends on how much energy the home consumes. A western household would consume far more than one in a developing country. But with a few wind turbines and enough wind, a home could be energy self-sufficient. You can also store the electricity that's produced in car batteries, which aren't too pricey.
Going forward, my ambition is to devise other open-source projects that are easy to build and that limit energy consumption, like a non-electric fridge or an energy-efficient air conditioner. I've already developed a prototype of the latter.