This is a great idea with a twist combining solar and wind energy. The vertical axis turbine is designed to be installed on rooftops

For homeowners looking to power their house with renewable energy, wind power offers a more efficient and environmentally friendly alternative to solar panels. But while solar panels on domestic homes are an increasingly common sight in urban and suburban areas, far fewer houses are installed with wind turbines.

To reverse this situation, UK engineer Joe Garrett has developed the AuraGen – a new vertical axis wind turbine designed to be mounted on homes and commercial buildings. The AuraGen’s unique design aims to minimise a phenomenon called ‘dynamic stall’ where factors such as wind shear and turbulence place a heavy load on turbine blades – reducing their lifespan. Moreover, the design is simple—reducing maintenance requirements—and offers good power performance.

The new turbine is omni-directional, which means it works no matter which way the wind is blowing, and the technology is tailored to work most effectively on pitched roofs. In fact, the shape of the roof enhances the turbine’s performance, acting like an aerofoil to increase the velocity of air going through the turbine.

A frame is used to directly attach the turbine to the roof. This is an important benefit as, by using the height of the house, the design does not require a tall support structure. This increases stability, meaning that the turbine itself can be wider, leading to greater power generation.

Compared to solar panels, wind turbines have a much higher power density and can operate at night. This latter point means that the AuraGen could potentially be used to charge electric vehicles overnight.

The idea for the AuraGen came to Garrett as a teenager when he worked on scaffolding and rooftops with his dad. His experiences working in the wind stuck with him and gave him the idea for a roof-mounted wind turbine. Thanks to the AuraGen design, Garrett received recognition as a winner of this year’s UK Young Innovators Awards.