Most of the scholarly focus to date has been on large horizontal axis rather than vertical axis wind turbines. It may be possible to improve the efficiency of vertical axis wind technology by deploying turbines in clusters. There might also be advantages to deploying vertical axis turbines at a smaller scale in urban or suburban areas and in places where the risk of bird damage is highest. Would these features increase public acceptance of new wind turbine installations and possibly open up new areas for wind energy development?
We conducted a public opinion poll in California to examine public receptiveness. We used experimental design to assess the willingness to accept vertical axis turbines in certain urban settings. We find that the visual differences between the vertical and conventional wind turbines did not matter very much in any of the hypothetical settings in which we placed them. However, the prospect of killing fewer birds registered strongly with our survey respondents, though it could be outweighed by concern for cost. We also show that certain segments of the population, particularly those who are more educated, may be open to a more extensive deployment of vertical axis turbines in urban communities.