Bladeless wind turbines trialed


1. Sustainability Problem

Energy: Global energy demand continues to grow, and renewable energy technologies are often less acceptable than fossil-fuel technologies because of the cost to manufacture and concerns about unintended impacts. Wind turbines, in particular, are often opposed because of noise pollution, shadow flicker and bird strike.

2. Technology Article Summary

Can bladeless wind turbines mute opposition?

by Dominic Bates
Published 6/1/2015 on theguardian at

  • Spanish company Vortex Bladeless has developed a wind turbine that captures close to 40 % of wind energy  without the use of blades.
  • The turbine uses the principle of aeroelastic coupling: wind currents form whirlwinds or vortices in contact with the structure, a single mast mounted on a frictionless magnetic bearing.
  • Vortices cause the mast to oscillate, a movement that increases exponentially as the frequency of the vortex approaches the resonance frequency of the structure. This mechanical energy is easily converted to electricity.
  • The structure is cheaper to produce than a conventional bladed turbine, has no wearing parts, is much quieter and is not expected to harm birds, so is poised to overcome the most significant arguments against wind turbine installation in the UK.
  • The turbine has not yet been produced to scale, but Vortex Bladeless hope to release a 100 W, 3 metre model and a 4 kW, 13 metre model in the next 18 months.

3. Organizational Stakeholders

This technology is initially intended for distributed generation. In this phase it might affect the following stakeholders:

  • Communities living off-grid in Africa and India
  • Homeowners in the UK interested in domestic generation
  • Policymakers considering restrictions on height of domestic turbines
  • Environmental and community groups including RSPB and CPRE

4. Deployment

The next three stages in deploying this technology could be:

  • Vortex Bladeless: develop 100 W and 4 kW models for market
  • Policymakers: reconsider the current 11.1 m height restriction on turbines in residential areas
  • Policymakers: exempt bladeless turbines from subsidy withdrawals designed to discourage bladed turbine installations

See also: for a discussion of unintended impacts of bladed wind turbines



One thought on “Bladeless wind turbines trialed

  1. Unfortunately this technology might be long on promise and short on delivery. It is still in the development stage and has not been built to scale so they can only theorize about how the device will respond to real conditions. Their claim to being relatively noiseless seems impossible to deliver considering anything spinning at their anticipated velocity will create noise. Skeptics have pointed out that spinning cylinders, and wind blowing across the open surface of the turbine, will cause a wide range of noises (one compared it to a freight train). The industry has recently seen the introduction of micro-wind turbines which made the same (unfulfilled) promises as Vortex Bladeless. Finally, it appears the conversion efficiency of the Vortex will be 70% at best, with traditional turbines running at 80-90% efficiency and continuing to improve by getting larger, not smaller. Hopefully we will see a different technology emerge to capture the power of wind, but this may just one step on that evolution.

    The Skeptics Speak:


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