Wall of wind turbines and other creative ideas to harness clean energy around us

Most of the world’s wind power comes from massive wind farms set on top of hills and spread across the ocean just off the coast. Indeed, the larger the turbine, the more power it can generate. So it’s more efficient.

However, our backyards and some crowded cities are also very windy. Why waste the resource? Also, some of these places can’t accommodate giant wind turbines and don’t get much sunlight, so solar panels aren’t as effective. These areas could benefit from an alternative smaller wind turbine to harness the natural electricity generation power that blows there.

With that in mind, American designer and entrepreneur Joe Doucet has created a new kind of wind turbine that hides in plain sight like a beautiful kinetic art installation. His creation is a wind turbine wall made up of 25 columns of square panes that rotate along an axis. It looks like a grid of twisted squares. Color and size are customizable.

Doucet said:

There are many reasons why wind farms are in the ocean. First, they are massive towers; you’re not going to see them littered around the cityscape.

In urban areas, there is not much open sunlight for solar power to work. The wind is still there.

(Credit: Joe Doucet)

The idea is to place this kinetic wind harvesting setup around town – like a fence around a building or on the side of the highway to block out traffic noise – to take advantage of the breeze and reduce our dependence on the electricity grid.

Doucet said:

Instead of the typical retaining walls along roads and highways, you’d have an array of them. Then, with the additional wind from the trucks, our highways could meet all our energy needs.

The structure that houses the turbines is made of aluminium, so it is relatively light and easy to install or move. The turbines drive a small generator. The electricity it produces can be stored in a battery, used directly or sold to the local power grid. Therefore, the wall could serve as a source of income for the owner if he does not use electricity.

The wall doesn’t generate as much electricity as a sizable bladed turbine, but every little bit helps mitigate climate change. The prototype presented by Doucet can produce more than 10,000 kilowatt hours per year, which should be enough to power a typical family home.

Doucet also offers other innovations, including luxury jeans with built-in technology and visually pleasing 3D-printed outdoor seating that doubles as public safety bollards. He is very interested in finding exciting and beautiful ways to incorporate technology into everyday life. It aims to make people more comfortable with the speed of change in our modern world and to inject fun into the monotonous and routine aspects of life.

You can even create your own wind wall. YouTuber Robert Murray-Smith explains it all in the video below:

And Doucet isn’t the only person designing smaller, personal-sized wind turbines for homes and urban living. Two students won the James Dyson Prize in 2018 with the O-Wind wind turbine, and a small company in Salt Lake City, Utah called Halcium developed the Powerpod.

Halcium claims the Powerpod is the safest and most powerful wind turbine on the planet. It is designed for residential and urban environments where there is not enough space for a massive wind turbine. It is about the size of a large barrel and can be installed on a building, RV, sailboat, fence or any secure surface. The wind can enter from any direction and from several directions simultaneously. The blade is concealed in the shell, so it’s safe to have around pets, wildlife and children.

The Powerpod is similar to the O-Wind Wind Turbine as it is also an omnidirectional wind harvesting device for crowded urban environments. However, the O-Wind turbine does not involve a blade. Instead, it uses Bernoulli’s principle to rotate the entire shell around a central axis. The twisting motion powers a generator that produces electricity.

For sustainable energy to become the norm, it must become more convenient and affordable so that anyone, anywhere can put a system in place personally. At present, it is almost impossible for someone in a big city to generate their own electricity from their apartment. So where would the device be installed to capture the energy? This is just one of the many complications for the city dweller of being green. Finding a solution to this problem inspired students, Nicolas Orellana and Yaseen Noorani, of Lancaster University, to invent the O-Wind wind turbine.

The O-Wind turbine is inexpensive to manufacture and easy to install. It could easily be attached to the outside of balconies or attached to the side of buildings for small scale power generation. Moreover, it is a simplistic design with no direction involved, requiring less maintenance than traditional wind turbines.

Wind is a popular form of renewable energy for our power supply. However, it is almost entirely left out when it comes to other energy-intensive things, like transportation, with a few fascinating exceptions. Nevertheless, some people have experimented with wind-powered vehicles.

Wall of wind turbines and other creative ideas to harness the clean energy around us
(Credit clockwise from left: Blackbird, Lotus Nemesis, Formula Zero)

For example, Blackbird is a rickety single-seater F1 racer with a giant windmill. Its wheels power a turbine and the “windmill” propeller spins backwards, generating thrust. Moving downwind, the propeller spins faster and therefore the wheels too, pushing the car faster than the speed of the wind.

A few other weird car designs involving wind turbines also power the vehicle, but none made it past the design or prototype stage. Nevertheless, wind-powered cars could become one of the carbon-free car choices in the future. These will likely be hybrids using electricity as a backup source. Electric vehicles are already well established and renewable energy has advanced considerably in recent years. So there’s no reason why cars with wind turbines won’t exist one day.

In conclusion, we are going to need all the sustainable power generation ideas at our disposal to fight global warming. The more people work to improve ways to harness the small gusts around us, as these inventors and designers did, the easier it might be to survive the climate crisis!

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