In Japan the Ashikaga Institute of Technology launched a "Natural Energy Square" for small stand alone wind turbines (both horizontal and vertical axis from several countries) and solar panels. A total of 18 machines are installed, listed in the article. The project is investigating the potential of such systems for outlying islands in Japan.

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With national Japanese television present to cover the event, the Ashikaga Institute of Technology launched a "Natural Energy Square" in April for stand alone wind turbines and solar panels at its campus, 80 kilometres north of Tokyo. The project was designed and produced by the institute's Professor Izumi Ushiyama, who is one of the leaders of the Japanese wind community and a co-chairman of the national wind energy association.

The Ashikaga experiment is the first in Japan to bring together a variety of both horizontal and vertical axis models for testing and research in full public view. The site not only includes commercial models, but also the institute's hand-made experiments. A total of 18 machines have been installed, with two empty masts for installing windmills on at a later date.

In particular, Ushiyama wants to experiment with his unique WISH -- the Wind and Solar Hybrid turbine, a Savonius vertical axis type with solar panels on the rotor surface. Heat reduces the efficiency of solar panels, but those on the WISH can be air cooled by the turbine's rotation. There is a negative factor, however. Rotating panels may receive less energy from the sun. But Ushiyama believes this problem can be solved.

The energy square's control system monitors the wind and the outputs of all the windmills. Power is fed into a battery bank, which provides electricity for monitoring and night lighting. The site, open to the public, has already received many visitors, not only academics but also wind turbine owners seeking advice. There are several small Japanese islands isolated from the grid and reliant on expensive and unreliable fuel supplies. Also, a fallout of the Kobe earthquake in January is the greater awareness in Japan of the necessity of survival items and services. Independent devices such as wind generators and solar panels should attraction attention for such applications.

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