There is a growing global demand for "clean" energy due to an increased mandate to reduce greenhouse gases. Wind energy has established itself as an economically competitive source due to major developments made in the efficiency and reliability of conversion systems. Currently, horizontal axis wind turbines (HAWTs) dominate the wind energy conversion market because of their high efficiency. However, recent advances in vertical axis conversion systems are closing the gap in efficiency. A novel flexible blade concept with the ability to morph and adapt to changing flow conditions was proposed by A. Beyene and T. Ireland, to address part load and performance issues encountered in wind energy conversion systems. The extension of these benefits to a vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT) would make wind technology a more competitive player in the energy market. A straight bladed vertical axis wind turbine (SB-VAWT) rotor was manufactured, to accommodate flexible and rigid blades. The performance and flexible behavior was studied in the department of mechanical engineering's low speed wind tunnel using a test rig that was built for this study. A mathematical model, validated using a high speed camera and finite element analysis, was developed to predict the magnitude and direction of blade morph. The results show that the coefficient of performance (CP) greatly depends on the tip speed ratio (TSR), i.e., the rigid blade has CP of 0.11 for a TSR of 1.6, whereas the morphing blade achieved a CP of 0.06 at a TSR of 1.13. Overall, the modified morphing blade has better performance at low RPMs, but the rigid blade performed better at high RPMs. It was observed that the VAWT equipped with flexible blades self-started in the majority of the experiments. The flexible blade's production of power at relatively low TSRs is a rare occurrence in the field. At high RPM, the centrifugal force overwhelmed the lift force, bending the blade out of phase in an undesired direction increasing drag and therefore reducing the CP. These results suggest that alterations to the current design must be made in order to account for the inertial forces experienced by blades in a vertical axis configuration.