This page is about new inventions in wind turbine technology, wind power generators, and wind energy information.
The problem with wind turbines and wind power generators is capturing the wind. These new inventions seek to solve that problem.
Wind generators need to be elevated above ground level to avoid distorted airflow caused by buildings, trees, mountains, valleys and other impediments that obstruct wind.
A popular solution to this problem has been to elevate wind turbines on towers in order to capture "clean wind", which is faster and more consistent than ground air - typically generating 8X more power.
But building these towers is expensive and the impact on the landscape often requires a time consuming and frustrating process of obtaining regulatory permits.
Inventor Ben Glass has developed an alternative solution. His wind power generators float in the sky. His invention was the winner of the ConocoPhillips Energy prize awarded by Penn State University.
A hollow shaped helium tube floats in the sky tehthered to the ground by a cable. The tube contains a propellar. Wind enters the tube and passes through a propeller which turns and generates electricity down the cable.
The helium tube is similar in design to unmanned blimps (aka aerostats), which have been used successfully for decades to carry radars, monitors and sensors in the sky for extended periods of time even during adverse weather conditions.
Unlike wind turbine towers, the process for obtaining regulatory permits for aerostats is well established, consistent and easier to obtain.
These floating wind turbine generators known as "Aerostate Platform for Rapid Deployment Airborne Wind Turbine" are contained in a single shipping container and can be deployed and functional within a day - producing 100 kilowatts of electrical power every 24 hours and remain airborn for three months before replacing the helium.
Glass expects his wind turbine technology to be used in remote and rural locations but envisions his product being used to create offshore "floating wind farms" generating electricity for an underwater electric power transmission.
Wind energy produces approximately 2.5% of the world's electricity, which represents a 27% growth rate over the past few years. Some countries generate a significant portion of their electricity from wind - Denmark (21%), Portugal (18%) and Spain (14%). Wind energy is expected to produce 3.4% of the world's electricity by 2013 and 8% by 2018.
Sources: live.psu.edu; conocophillips.com Photo Credits: altaerosenergies.com
His invention focuses on how air travels over a rooftop. Similar to an airfoil on a wing of an airplane, air travels faster when it passes over the peak of a roof - about 3X faster.
Gregory designed cylindrical wind turbine generators that capture this fast moving air. These turbines, known as Ridgeblades, are 6.5 m in length and approximately 25 cm in height and are placed along the ridge on the peak of a roof.
The units are designed to be unobtrusive and feature benefits such as color-matching and vibration free, quiet operation that are necessary for urban planning approval - which have hampered the use of traditional rooftop wind generators.
Gregory, a former Rolls Royce turbine engineer, won the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge for his invention, which included a cash prize of approximately $750,000 (US).
The Postcode Challenge is an international annual competition that awards inventors for innovations that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Sources: ridgeblade.com; greenchallenge.info Graphic Credits: ridgeblade.com
Related: Wind Turbine Technology