The “chimney effect” is what it is called, according to a FORTUNE video on http://money.cnn.com this morning, but also chatted about on Motley Fool and lots of other Internet sites. It is the phenomenon of seemingly very high winds on the tops of tall buildings when there is little or no breeze on the street. For NYC dwellers, it is the main reason why very few tall buildings have sundecks on the roof, (the patio furniture might take flight). But it also makes tall buildings candidates for urban wind turbines to help individual buildings achieve energy independence.
It seems that the focal point of this seemingly obvious source of power is AeroVironment Inc (http://www.avinc.com/), which trades on Nasdaq as AVAV. It is not surprising when you read their story that their stock is trading robustly at the top of its 52-week range, and that their market cap is about $750 million on sales of about $66 million last quarter, with earnings of about $9 million or $0.41 per share (all those numbers are hefty increases over the previous year).
But even on tall buildings there are times when the breeze falters, and that is when ranks of batteries for energy storage are an integral part of powering buildings without sucking electricity off the grid. The “Cube” from Axion Power International* (http://www.axionpower.com) is one solution — ranks of PbC deep-discharging and quick recharging batteries with long lifespans and much lower costs than exotic new batteries like Li-ion.