While wind turbines produce clean energy unlike dirty power plants that pollute out of sight, many people aren’t thrilled to see them dotting the landscape.
Over the years, there have been many turbine designs that have yet to gain traction, notably vertical turbines. Now, there’s a new design that takes it to the limit – turbines that look like sticks in the ground – with no blades at all.
Does this new design look better to you?!
No more worries about noise for people who live nearby. It has no moving parts and is therefore silent. It doesn’t have blades, so it can’t kill birds and bats. Prototypes are almost as efficient as conventional turbines and are markedly cheaper to build and maintain.
"It will need less material, allowing us to provide electricity to more people at a lower cost, while leaving a smaller environmental footprint. It won’t kill birds and it won’t make noise. Stop imagining – here comes Vortex!," says the developer, Spain-based Vortex Blades, on its crowdfunding page.
Here’s how it works
Instead of capturing energy by the rotating motion of turbine blades, Vortex takes advantage of "vorticity" – an aerodynamic effect that occurs when wind breaks against a solid structure. It begins to oscillate and captures the energy that is produced. It "floats" on magnets, which significantly increases oscillation.
The developers claim they can produce wind energy that costs 40% less than from conventional turbines, when you include land leases, operations and maintenance.
That’s because they save 53% on manufacturing and maintenance costs (fewer parts), land leases (they take a quarter of the space).
Within the next year, Vortex will release its first small-scale versions, 4 kilowatt turbine for homes, and a 100 watt turbine that’s combined with a 125 watt solar panel and a small battery, comprising a cheap renewable energy package for off-grid use in India and Africa. It can provide energy for three lights, a TV and refrigerator. They hope to build a 1 megawatt turbine by 2018.
"With two or three Vortex and four or five solar panels, by investing 2000-3000 euros you could generate enough power for your home," co-founder David Yanez told Reuters. At 10-feet high, the 100 watt turbine can be installed on the ground or on the roof, costing 300 euros each. Add a battery and you’re off the grid.
Bladeless turbines could make the difference in the UK, where the government plans to stop subsidizing onshore wind farms because of the visual impact and potential collisions with wildlife.
The company has raised $1.1 million in public and private investments and says it is close to raising $5 million from a US investor.
So Many Promising Turbine Designs
- Power WINDows fits between two buildings
- SolarMills combine wind and solar into one device
- Shrouded turbine is specifically designed to protect birds and bats from its blades
- Turbines that go on the roof of buildings
- INVELOX towers produce six times the energy of the largest onshore turbine.
- Makani Power, owned by Google, makes an Airborne Wind Turbine that twice the energy of a conventional counterpart by flying in the air like a kite on a small airplane
- Altareos Energies’s turbine floats in the air