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 http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/jun/01/can-bladeless-wind-turbines-mute-opposition
- 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
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: http://www.greenrhinoenergy.com/renewable/wind/wind_environment.php for a discussion of unintended impacts of bladed wind turbines