Not really looking ahead, more like looking back.
Technology moves so fast these days it seems the minute anything novel enters the noosphere that allows us to take a quantum step in our evolution instantly becomes an 8-track. I recently bought an iPod nano to finally upgrade grandpa Nate into the 21st century only to realize by the time the Jonas Brothers come out of the closet (any second now), the next generation of teeny boppers will be “tweeting” about how big of loser I am for owning such an ancient relic.
Wind energy technology is no different from portable music players with respect to it’s depreciation in novelty. But with age comes wisdom, or so I’m told by the wise, so at times we must be wise and look back in order to understand the future, teeny bopper judgments notwithstanding. Tomorrow’s progress stands on past laurels, so to have a new perspective on where the wind may be blowing sometime soon, let us look back for a moment at a couple of recent news stories.
FloDesign of Wilbraham, MA has designed turbines based on the same principles as jet engines. In an article that came out last December in MIT’s Technology Review, they claim their design could cut the cost of producing electricity from wind turbines in half, partly because of the turbines’ ability to surpass the Betz efficiency limit of 59.3%. The turbines are much smaller than the ones currently spinning in the Columbia gorge in route to Portland, and thus can be built closer together to yield higher energy per acre of land. A working prototype is due by late this year or early 2010 with larger turbines and commercial development to follow. Keep your eyes open for news updates and check out the video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RagPPrHUMTY
Another interesting wind turbine idea from months past is the Maglev Wind Turbine, a vertical design that rests on powerful permanent magnets; the company claims will reduce operating cost by 50% compared with the industry average. Theoretically, the design could be scaled up to produce over a gW of power per turbine, enough to supply energy to over 750,000 homes. A production plant to produce the components for smaller scale turbines in the range of 400 to 5,000 watts is being built in China. To see a conceptual video follow this link. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7Qs2gFlt-o
Finally, a company named Broadstar Wind Systems has developed a novel design that has the appearance of a water wheel.
In a past article from Energy Daily, the company claims to have developed the first turbine to break the $1 per watt barrier with a $250,000, 250 kW design. Broadstar claims they will have a unique advantage in the market because there are very few 100 to 500 kW designs. By integrating smaller turbines into commercial buildings and avoiding the transmission line problem faced by larger, rural wind turbines, Broadstar could become competitive.
To see a video check it out! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jaY1jH6-ToI
The news releases on these turbine designs are months old, or in teeny bopper time, biblical. Does that mean they shouldn’t be “tweeted” about? Of course not, remember with age comes wisdom. In order to be in tune with the next quantum step in the wind energy field, we must look back at past designs, understand them, and keep our eyes open for new updates. The industry is changing fast. Thus, it’s important to stay ahead of the curve, lest we become obsolete like the 8-track.