In recent years the technological advances in harnessing wind energy has rapidly accelerated and turbines have become a much more common site in many countries; in the UK onshore wind generation increased by 7.9% between 2013 and 2014 (Department of Energy and Climate Change, 2015).
From my own experience I have been delighted to see how many are now scattered throughout the Cornish countryside, and will be interested to see if this view changes after further research and talking to farmers, energy companies and other interest groups during the Grand Challenges program.
Initiative research has led to varieties in design emerging. An especially interesting and different approach has been developed by the Spanish company Vortex which astonishingly eliminates the blade component altogether! So far it has received very positive reviews, although it is still in prototype and testing stages.
The lack of gears, bolts and mechanically moving parts makes it cheaper to manufacture and maintain. More can fit into the same space so more energy can be generated per unit of land. Furthermore, it is completely silent and much safer for birds. As cost is a key factor in decision making, the major advantage is that it is estimated to be around 51% cheaper than blade systems (Stinson, 2015; Vortex, 2015).
Here is a short, interesting video which is well worth watching for more detail
Look out for these in the future!
It is worth discussing alternative designs if we want a feasible range of options for utilising wind power in the near future. It is important to draw attention to a variety of technology options so that each can be developed and optimised, for the best chance at providing an increasing population’s energy needs sustainably.
Department for Energy and Climate Change (2015) Energy trends section 6: renewables, accessed 27/05/15 from gov.uk: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/energy-trends-section-6-renewables
Stinson, L. (2015) The future of wind turbines? No blades, accesed 27/05/15 from wired http://www.wired.com/2015/05/future-wind-turbines-no-blades/
Vortex (2015) Vortex Bladeless Design, accessed 26/05/15 from Vortex Bladeless http://vortexbladeless.com/technology.php