However, wind guru Paul Gipe believes that the vertical-axis wind generators at Crissy Field are little more than architectural elements—calling them “kinetic sculpture”—and that their energy output is “severely overrated.” It is well-accepted in the wind industry that turbine towers must be tall in order to take good advantage of whatever wind resource is available. Home Power wind editor Ian Woofenden also has his doubts about VAWTs. “Perhaps some day we’ll see a successful VAWT in the marketplace for more than a matter of years. Perhaps we’ll see one that is durable and productive. I remain open to this possibility, but remain guarded about the claims.”
The final piece of the project is the completion of a Web-accessible monitoring system that tracks on-site energy generation “You will be able to see a chart of the combined output of the turbines, each turbine individually, as well as wind speed, temperature, irradiance, and solar output,” says Goers, “and how much energy is being used by the electric cars. The project will answer questions about how effective solar is in foggy San Francisco, and which of the types of vertical-axis wind turbines produce the most energy under various wind conditions.”
Since the Crissy Field EV chargers were installed, the Golden Gate National Recreational Area has added two Nissan Leaf electric cars to its fleet as part of a federal pilot project. Castellini says that five more will soon be added via the Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program.
“We’re exposing renewable energy technology and electric cars to people who may otherwise have never seen them,” she says. “It’s accomplishing the purpose we set out, to create a snowball effect and to create positive change.”