Small wind turbines made for the back yard

It looks like an abstract sculpture or metallic lawn art, and its promoters say that installing several can turn an ordinary backyard into a wind garden.

Renewable energy advocates in North Carolina say the Windspire, a power turbine that spins in an upright position in a confined space, could represent a major breakthrough for wind energy. Instead of using towers 100 feet tall or higher for conventional windmills, the Windspire is just 30 feet tall.

Wind energy has long been a nonstarter in this state because the best wind speeds are found in ecologically sensitive areas: Appalachian ridge tops and pristine coastlines. The state's midsection isn't windy enough to justify harnessing wind on a commercial scale. But for those who just want to supplement their power supply, one potential solution is the Windspire, with its comparatively low price tag and a design that works on office rooftops and in suburban open spaces.

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