Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The future of wind power?

These have been talked about for a few years now, but this is the first time I've come across any comments on their potential size and projected efficiency. This article from Gizmag details the design and concept of giant maglev wind turbines. With no friction to overcome, it is claimed that these will prove to be very low maintenance, but more importantly, will be efficient at wind speed as low as 1.5 Metres per second.

The concept projects that a single maglev turbine as big as a block of flats could have an output of almost 1 gigawatt and have an ROI of less than 1 year!

No doubt some will find them objectionable as being ugly, evil, unnecessary or even just a touch of NIMBYism may come into play. But, if the ROI is as low as claimed and running costs are as low as stated then perhaps we can expect to see these appearing on the UK landscape over the next 10 to 20 years.

Hmmm, I wonder if anyone is working on a domestic property scale model?


Peter said...

Let's start! I've always love magnet tecnhology, and even tried to make a perpetual motion machine based on it... ignoring a few laws of physics.

But I think the whole NIMBY thing cannot be ignored. That picture puts it in nuclear power plant, water cooling or gas tower territory for just plain ugly.

I personally find the windill variety quite pleasing.

That said, and despite paddle boat vs. propellor screw evidence to the contrary on boats, vertical axis devices just seem to make more sense to 'capture' the energy. I stand ready to be disabused.

There were a few designs on show at the Geneva Show. It surely would be quite easy to do a wind tunnel comparison of what sucks the most out?

Lawrence Clark said...

It'll be interesting to see what difference magnetic levitation makes in practice. The lack of friction and decreased maintenance may help, but they will still need a good wind resource! It also looks like they are strictly on-shore rather than off-shore devices. The physics of wind turbines of whatever design means that power rises with the cube of the windspeed (double windspeed, get eight times the power).

On the subject of magnetic levitation, it won't be much help with making 'greener' high speed trains. That's because most of the drag of high speed trains is due to air resistance, rather than rolling resistance.....


Dave said...

Just a silly thought, but if these things are effectively frictionless, the force required to turn them (and keep them turning) should be pretty low. Maybe we could design them with some sort of treadmill, and the burgeoning army of keep-fit fanatics could exercise whilst turning them on the days when the wind refuses to blow?