News - 6 Innovations in Wind Power
Wind. Unpredictable, uncontrollable, but nonetheless a compelling resource for the human race as we seek greener ways of sustaining our existence. At YOO, we’ve always been fascinated by innovations in the technology around renewable energy. Marry these concepts with great design, and you’ve got a recipe that really excites us. While the quest to refine the way we harvest wind energy continues, we take a look at some innovative twists on the traditional three-blade and tower wind turbines.
Makani Airborne Wind Turbine
Recently acquired by Google X, a tethered, airborne wing designed to access the untapped resources of wind at high altitude and over deep areas of water offshore. The wing flies in vertical circles in areas inaccessible to standard turbine designs, can function at lower wind speeds and requires 90% less materials to build. Think access to stronger and more consistent wind, think offshore, airborne wind farms producing energy at half the current cost.
Created by design students at Nottingham Trent University, virtually noise free and only about 1.5m high. It can operate at both low and high wind speeds because every point on the aerofoil moves at the same speed. This means it’s potentially less damaging to the horizon and could be easily placed on top of hills or tall buildings.
It’s a balloon full of helium wrapped around a wind turbine. The balloon can float to high altitudes of 350m and land automatically. It’s deployed from a towable docking trailer and aims to reduce energy costs by up to 65% by harnessing the stronger winds found over 1,000ft. Requiring minimal maintenance and with virtually no environmental or noise impact, this could well be the future of offshore wind turbines
Perhaps not the most practical of all the solutions we’ve seen, but visually arresting, to say the least. An ecosystem and a wind farm in one. Like a giant field of grass or reeds these 55m high ‘stalks’ sway in the wind, anchored by large concrete bases. An LED atop each stem indicates the strength of the wind. Rain water collects at the base creating an environment where plants can thrive. How is energy collected? Each stem contains a stack of piezoelectric disks which is forced into compression as it bends, thus generating a current through the electrodes that sit in between the discs.
The wind turbine’s quieter, less imposing and more bird-friendly cousin. The windspire’s reflective cage wards off our flying friends and the action has a less confusing effect on them as big wind turbines. Grouping them together in particular arrangements also makes them more efficient than isolated ones.
Green power island
An innovation which tackles the unpredictability of wind power and finds a solution to it during down times. These artificial islands store energy by using excess power generated by the wind turbines (at night for example) to pump dry an internal reservoir. This is then allowed to refill during peak times, driving turbines which generate the extra energy required. Ingenious.
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