December 20, 2011 in Wind
I had a discussion recently with an employee of Second Wind about the wind industry – and how innovations in the industry are mostly incremental and not as exciting as projects we’re seeing in the solar industry.
But Wind-it blows me away. Pun intended.
Wind blows harder at higher altitudes, so traditional wind turbines are usually built on very tall “pylons” (towers) generally made from rare metals.
The Wind-it concept is designed to build on existing transmission networks, expanding wind-generated electricity without the need for new tall pylons — and in effect reducing rare metal needs, investment costs, and added visual pollution.
The idea is simple – install small vertical axis wind generators on existing pylons, coupled with wind guidance systems such as sails, reinforcing winds towards the generator. The electricity produced can then easily be re-integrated into the electrical grid.
Here-below is an example of a vertical axis wind generator, produced by Urban Green Energy.
Wind-it is targeting emerging countries, since pylons in these regions are growing at a fast rate for power transmission and cell phone towers — a fact that was very evident for me when I was in Haiti, where even the remotest of villages are dotted with multiple new cell phone towers powered by diesel generators (that could eventually be replaced by Wind-it systems!).
But even in a country like France, if 1/3 of the existing pylons were retrofitted with Wind-it turbines, we could generate the equivalent electricity of 2 nuclear power plants.
The Wind-it design was first developed in 2007, and since then, has received a European patent, is listed as one of The Blue Economy projects, and is currently being prototyped.
I love this idea of making a small change to an existing infrastructure to generate electricity – I’m curious to understand better the cost and time investment needed to integrate the Wind-it system, but theoretically (or I hope realistically!), we could be installing thousands of these tiny systems and producing wind-generated electricity within 2-3 years — while highly political large-scale projects, like off-shore wind farms or nuclear plants, would still be in “discussion”.