My first awareness of the ducted, rim-driven, rooftop contraption called Windtronics is buried in the mists of time. I’ve been writing about Windtronics at least since 2008. None of it’s good.
The history of Windtronics—and now its derivative—is so bad that I’ve devoted an entire section of my web site to it. Check out my Honeywell Windtronics pages under Rooftop and Urban Wind. Yes, that Honeywell. But before you begin to believe that Honeywell somehow endorsed this thing, keep in mind that trade names are a tradable commodity. Windtronics bought the name for its use, nothing more. In this sad tale you will also find the name of ACE hardware stores that at onetime stocked this device.
And while I’ve written more about this thing than it deserves, I haven’t written half of what I’ve been told by those who have been burned by its promoters. Here are just a few of my articles on this subject.
- WindTronics Took Millions from Ontario Then Unconvincingly Blames the Province
- Curse of Honeywell Windtronics Keeps on Giving
- Honeywell Windtronics–ACE Hardware’s Revenge
Hell, even the Minnesota National Guard was suckered by these guys. (It’s never wise to stiff guys with guns.)
What does this have to do with the Trump family and Donald Trump Jr in particular, you may well ask. Trump Sr hates windmills. They cause cancer, right? Apparently, Don Jr didn’t get the memo.
Turns out Don Jr had peddled a knockoff of the Windtronics device with as much success as everyone else who has tried. I wrote a short post in early 2017 about a company called TAM Energy spinning hype about a machine that looked an awful lot like a Windtronics wind thingy. In fact, some of the illustrations were taken right off the Windtronics web site.
What I didn’t know then was that TAM stood for Titan Atlas Manufacturing, a company backed by Donald Trump Jr. The plot thickens considerably from there. Joe Rubin has posted an extended exposé in the New Republic on Don Jr’s role in TAM. See How Donald Trump Jr. Promised—and Failed—to House the World’s Poor for details.
I’ve extracted two paragraphs from Rubin’s article that concerns TAM’s Windtronics derivative.
“Titan Atlas Manufacturing also benefited from an Obama-era federal stimulus program to sell five TAM wind turbines to the city of North Charleston. For a time, they were installed on the roof of City Hall. Titan Atlas had promised the city 50,000 kilowatts of power annually, enough to power 50 homes for a month. A letter from the company to the city’s federal grants administrator stated that “the turbine is patented and there are no other turbines similar in design or efficiency. There are no other known competitors or competing products for this application and use. We are the sole source for this product.” The purchase and the application for federal funds was signed by North Charleston’s longtime mayor, Keith Summey, who would go on to champion the naval hospital contract. At the time, Summey hyped the wind turbine project, telling the Charleston Post and Courier that “it’s part of that cutting-edge technology that we are trying to attract.
“But the turbines apparently never produced any measurably significant energy and were quietly torn down at the city’s expense in 2014, a few years after they were installed. Julie Elmore, an aide to Summey, wrote to the City Hall staff informing them of what had happened and what to say in case the media called. She wrote that she wanted to make sure staff were not “blindsided,” adding that the city didn’t want to “put any more money in them since we have no true way to measure its efficiency.”
There you have it. The North Charleston Windtronics-cum-TAM Energy turbines never worked as advertised, assuming they worked at all, and were removed in 2014.
I am quoted by Rubin in the article, “Gipe told me it’s no wonder TAM turbines barely worked, calling the designs worse than junk science. The original Windtronics design would be hard-pressed to run a 100 watt light bulb for an entire year.”
Let’s put some more nails in the Windtronics coffin to make sure this zombie doesn’t rise up from the grave again.
First, let’s clarify that Rubin confuses power and energy and in his effort to simplify the concepts for the average reader confuses matters further. It’s a common problem; Rubin is not alone in this.
I assume he meant 50,000 kWh (energy) and not 50,000 kW (50 MW of power).
Tam claimed five turbines would generate 50,000 kWh, Rubin suggests, or 10,000 kWh per turbine. Originally, Windtronics claimed the turbine would produce 1,600 kWh per year—not 10,000. In my 2008 analysis, the 1.5-meter diameter wind turbine would only be able to produce this much electricity if it was exposed to an average wind speed of 8 m/s. The company was originally located in Western Michigan. There are no sites in Michigan with 8 m/s average annual wind speed and certainly not on a rooftop where they planned to put these things. Neither would you find this much wind on a rooftop in North Charleston, South Carolina.
I have no idea how these things performed as recuperators on exhaust fans. I suspect they performed no better than as wind turbines.
Note that North Charleston’s then mayor defended the purchase of TAM’s devices as “patented,” “cutting edge,” “no others like it,” and so on.
The mayor, certainly his staff, and the customers of TAM Energy would have been well served to do a bit of googling. I posted an article in 2009 (see Fantasy Wind Turbines or If It’s Too Good To Be True . . .) that used just those terms as tell-tale signs of scams, frauds, and flakes.
Don Jr would have been wise to do a little googling himself. If he had, he’d have come across my articles debunking the Windtronics device and saved himself a lot of trouble at least on the TAM Energy side of his venture.
Unfortunately, the TAM Energy web site is still touting the TAM Wind Turbine. Among its many claims are that it’s “wildlife friendly,” another of my tell-tale signs of a wind turbine too good to be true.
Another claim is that it’s the “Most efficient certified Wind Turbine on the Market.” The TAM wind turbine is not certified by the Small Wind Turbine Certification Council. It might be “certified” for something, but it is not certified as a wind turbine.
Since we’re at it, let’s go on to their energy claims. Tam claims that their 1.8-meter diameter turbine can generate 2,000 kWh per year “depending on site location, height and annual wind speed.” Indeed. As with the original Windtronics turbine way back in 2008, the TAM wind turbine could theoretically do this at a site with an average annual wind speed of 8 m/s!
For those who don’t know, a site with an average annual wind speed of 8 m/s is terrifically windy, so windy in fact, you wouldn’t want to live there. Most commercial wind turbines, the ones that Don Sr doesn’t like, are not installed at sites with an average annual wind speed of 8 m/s.
To claim that the 1.8-meter TAM wind turbine could generate 2,000 kWh per year is preposterous. It was preposterous in 2008 and it still is 2022.
Don Jr and the Trump family would do the country good by at least taking down the TAM Energy web site. It’s embarrassing to all of us.