The Law of Accelerating Returns is alive and well in the wind power industry. Just this week I noticed the following:
A “virtually silent” small wind turbine suitable for both urban and rural applications being released to the world this week by Australia’s Renewable Energy Solutions Australia Holdings Ltd. (mercifully they also go by RESA), the Eco Whisper Turbine stands 21 meters in height with 6.5 meter blades and generates 20kW. I’d be happy to see one over my house and just slightly less happy if my neighbors followed suit. Judging by the angle of the row of poplar trees outside, today would be a great day to be wind powered.
The touted silent operation is due to their “unique cowl/ring that prevents air from spilling off the blades.” I’m not sure if the same cowl is what works to minimize bird casualties, but they tout that as well as lower start-up speeds. Also, it wasn’t clear if these will be marketed outside of Australia anytime soon.
Did you know that ConocoPhilips has been awarding an annual energy prize for four years now? And, no, it’s not for the most creative uses of petrochemicals. The 2011 ConocoPhilips Energy Prize, a joint initiative with Penn State University, awarded $125,000 to Ben Glass and Adam Rein of Altaeros Energies for their “Aerostat Platform for Rapid Deployment Airborne Wind Turbine.” The basic idea here is to clear your view of the turbine by hoisting it 2,000 feet straight-up. Besides making for cleaner sight lines the concept also leverages the stronger, more consistent wind up high. A floating turbine might also be useful in remote areas where the ground infrastructure is deficient. In any case, it’s a cool idea and not the only one being floated out there. In fact, there’s already a group called the Airborne Wind Energy Consortium just for those that like to spin up high.
A hat-tip to the EnergyWise blog for bringing this to my attention.