Wind energy has been for long touted to be one of the most promising ways to generate around the clock renewable energy. The statistics seem to be on the same lines as well, with a recent study conducted by Stanford researchers showing that there is plenty of wind to meet the world’s total power demand by 2030. However, conventional horizontal axis wind turbines come with their own set of issues ranging from spoiling the view of the landscape to causing health related problems in people living nearby. Research is on to find alternative designs, which can answer all the issues, while still providing enough energy to power homes and industries. Here is a list of some of the most innovatively designed wind turbines for the future.
Right from the noise and vibration to problems caused for birds, most of the issues are related to the spinning blades of wind turbines. Tunisia-based Saphon Energy claimed to have solved all the problems by removing the blades altogether from their innovative wind turbine. Dubbed the Saphonian, the wind turbine relies on a non-rotational back and forth motion following the path of a knot and thereby converts the resulting kinetic energy into mechanical energy and then into electricity. Inspired by sails, the turbine is being claimed to be 2.3 times more efficient than spinning blades and also costs 45 percent less to manufacture.
One major problem with wind turbines is that once they are manufactured it’s really a herculean task to transport the turbines to the installation site. To address the issue McCamley has come up with a prototype wind turbine that can be flat packed and shipped to the desired location with utmost ease. The vertical axis wind turbine is not only safe for birds and bats, but also produces less noise and vibration. The company states that the turbine can produce electricity from gentle wind speeds of just 4mph and can be adapted to capacities between 1kW to 24kW.
Most horizontal axis wind turbines have large spinning blades, but the energy is harvested at the hub with the use of gear boxes. Since the blades spin much faster than the hub, a lot of energy is wasted and only a small percent is converted into usable energy. Keuka Energy has provided an answer in the form of a Direct Drive Wind Turbine that harvests energy at the edge of the blades promising an enhanced output. The company recently came up with a 100kW prototype and has announced that a larger 12.5MW model is under development. The company aims to build a turbine that can produce 100MW of power to completely eliminate the need for a coal-fired power plant.
Instead of erecting hundreds of turbines along the landscape to generate energy to power a community, Doug Selsam has envisioned the Sky Serpent, a unique prototype wind energy harvesting system that generates 3000W of renewable power. The idea here is simple – instead of erecting large turbines the prototype uses an array of small rotors to catch more wind for an affordable cost. The key here is to increase the efficiency of each small rotor to produce more power.
David North, an engineer at NASA, says that since 90 percent of the energy generated by a conventional wind turbine is harvested at the edges, 400 tons of steel and concrete and simply wasted. To prove his saying, David has come up with a flying wind generator that harvests energy at the windy higher altitudes at just a fraction of the cost. The inventor is working on two different versions with the first one including a set of generators built into a kite and the other one feature a ground based generator that is tethered to a kite hovering at an altitude of 2000 feet. With a flight control system, the kite is made to fly in a figure-8 pattern. The inventor is confident that a kite with a wingspan of just 10 feet would be 90 percent more efficient.