By Roy Carter
Hello again, this article’s focus is on new ideas for wind turbines. Many people are not on board with current windmills having blades the size of medium to large passenger airlines. Folks are also concerned about bird deaths and the fact that making these giant steel behemoths involves a high carbon footprint.
Why not let newer, more practical ideas and designs have a chance at showing their potential?
Let me introduce you to New Wind’s device, the Tree Vent.¹ This device consists of up to 72 miniature wind turbines in the shape of a tree and aside from looking like an art student’s crazy creation, it boasts a power output of 3.1 kilowatts per day. It’s height of 11 meters also has the benefit of canceling out noise, sonic and electrical low-frequency vibrations. The turbines are called “aeroleaves” and could eventually replace those enormous heaps of metal that would dissuade even Don Quixote from challenging.
The downside to these turbines is that they’re currently only in France and Europe, so a lot more time is needed before they are adopted into the open market. Another issue is that a lot of these green energy wind projects rely on heavy government subsidies and this matter is rarely addressed by renewable energy companies. The cost of these “trees” also runs close to 30,000 Euros which makes it lacking in affordability and ergo, cost efficiency.
Another interesting wind turbine design involves using the vortices produced when wind moves around objects. The company’s name is Vortex Bladeless and their design looks like a giant baseball bat.² This makes it safe for birds and is cheaper to manufacture and maintain than current pinwheel turbines. There’s much skepticism on whether or not the airflow needed can produce the desired outputs but this Spanish company stands by their claim that they can operate at any wind speed using electromagnetic properties in the core of the turbine.
Then there’s the Icelandic answer to conventional windmills called Icewind, which has a shorter multi-blade turbine that is much more resilient in high winds and doesn’t need to be positioned for maximum wind coverage, due to its design.³ The downsides to these turbines is that Savonius-style turbines rely on drag instead of lift and the power output remains minimal if being used on a large scale basis.
The truth is, there’s no shortage of ideas for new wind turbines, Japan has been looking into typhoon turbines to offset demand, there are even ideas for floating helium balloon windmill prototypes that look like something out of a steampunk game or novel. While it’s nice to have turbines that are aesthetically pleasing, we should also look to designs with the highest energy output.
This is where the company Sheerwind comes in.4 Their Invelox energy system operates by using ground-level breezes while implementing a tapered passageway which in turn speeds up the airflow. It may not be as beautiful as some of the other new wind turbine designs out there but this is one of the best at the moment in my opinion. It’s low installation and maintenance costs, unobtrusive design to birds and low-frequency sensitive people alike make it a great solution, plus it boasts a high energy production capacity of 72% which means that we could see $10 for each Megawatt per hour. This turbine is also able to operate without government subsidies which really makes it stand out from all the other designs.
Another company called Enlil has an interesting hybrid of solar panels and wind turbines. These can be put in between highway lanes to harness the power of passing vehicles which in turn, can power highway lights or other needs at a projected power output of 1 kw/hr, per unit.5 So there’s definitely some promising new innovations in potential wind turbines, with even the large scale classic lift wind turbines usually adopted by governments and municipalities globally.
These are just some of the newer existing options, I’m not saying we have to switch immediately and heavily subsidize these alternatives, but I do believe we should let these designs compete economically on the free market so that taxpayers and consumers get the most bang for their buck. There is nothing wrong with looking toward off-setting the growing demands of the future, as long as it doesn’t dramatically raise energy costs for families already struggling with increasing living costs.
While energy may not be the be all end all, it does have potential and if we shun its development we close the doors to promising breakthroughs and advancements in our civilization as we know it.