Evolving Wind Power
Technology is moving so fast, and the evolution in wind power is no exception.
Recently, Professor Prof. Yuji Ohya of the Kyushu University Research Institute for Applied Mechanics (RIAM) presented the latest in wind turbine technology. Called a Wind Lens, the system uses an inlet shroud, a diffuser and a brim, creating a lens. The research team claims that their improved system can triple the power output of a standard turbine.
A rim is placed around the blades, creating a low pressure behind the turbine. As the wind is sucked through the turbine, the effective wind speed increases. The wind is essentially focused through the lens, creating vortices that increase the velocity of the wind, which in turn increases the turbine speed. Almost like a magnifying glass focuses sunrays to a pinpoint, generating heat.
This is just one of the new twists on turbine technology.
WindTamer systems use foils around the blades, which create two vacuums, one ahead of the blades and one behind the turbine. The patented diffuser system uses both the push and pull of the wind. The wind pushes the blades to start rotating, like traditional turbines. The diffuser system augments the wind by using the two vacuums that pull the wind through the blades more quickly, thus turning the rotors faster and creating more power.
These foiled, or enclosed systems are much quieter than the traditional turbines, and much smaller. They also require less wind, due to the enhanced wind generating capabilities, which means they don’t need to be mounted as high as traditional wind turbines.
Because these systems look solid, birds and bats don’t fly into them, another plus for the shrouded turbines – and the bats and birds. The Federal Aviation Administration has approved WindTamers for use at airports.
The U.S. possesses 2.2 million km2 (about 850,000 square miles) of high wind potential (Class 3-7 winds) land that could be used to produce the kind of energy this country needs. By developing just 20 percent of this vast resource, it would be theoretically possible to produce 8.7 billion megawatt hours of electricity each year.
Enter the new, high efficiency turbines like the Wind Lens. Multiply the theoretical output by three and the results would be astounding. The entire United States could be powered by the whoosh of the wind turbines. No more polluted aquifers from fracking, not more destroyed natural habitats. No more horrendous oil spills.
To generate these results, the wind farms would need about 2,640,000 turbines, a huge number. However, consider the vast prairies and agricultural land that could hold them. Farmers could continue to raise crops right alongside the turbines. And in economically depressed areas, employment would increase with the development of the farms and the smart grids necessary to deploy the power across the nation.
Currently, the proposed $7-8 billion TransWest Express (TWE) Transmission & Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project led by Anschutz Corporation would deliver wind power generated by 1,000 2-3 megawatt (MW) turbines located near Carbon County, Wyoming, via a new super DC (direct current) transmission line to a hub in southern Nevada. Imagine this output times three, utilizing the new Wind Lens or other high-efficiency turbines. It could power three cities the size of Los Angeles. Forever.
And if you’re thinking, it would be way too expensive, think again. The cost per MWh would be a lot lower than existing coal power; $80 for wind power, $90 for coal. Moreover, these costs are without any federal or state renewable subsidies.
The project is also projected to create as many as 18,000 jobs (12,688 in the wind farm and 5,000+ in the transmission project).
Certainly a win-win situation.