The old-fashioned windmill design, the version that you would see one-a- a-time on an old farmstead, had a certain appeal – especially when I was a kid drawing crayoned pictures of Dutch landscapes with tulips. And the weathered skeletal structures seen creaking in the wind and pumping water when I crossed the Australian outback years ago ended up in artsy black-and-white photos.
But they are no match for a rooftop wind-power design I saw on the PESwiki website months ago. Thanks to a helpful reader for reminding me where it was…White against sky blue, a swirling helix. When spinning it looks like a Sufi dancer.
And now some designer for a futuristic city is envisioning a windpark that looks like an artificial forest of gently swaying stalks made of reinforced carbon fiber. The cattail-like structures, tall as soaring trees, are about a foot in diameter at the bottom – which is set in an oval concrete base — and stalks gracefully taper to two inches across at 180 feet up in the air. On the top, little LEDs glow at night.
No blades, so the things are quiet. Well that’s the plan; they haven’t built a demonstration unit as far as I know. I followed a link from Grist Environmental News to the story at Discovery News. http://news.discovery.com/tech/wind-power-without-the-blades.html
The Windstalk design is for Masdar, an automobile-free area being built outside of Abu Dhabi. Masdar sponsored a Land Art Generator contest, looking for the best work of art that generates renewable energy, and the Windstalk came in second.
The movement would generate about as much as a bladed windfarm of the same size because friction wouldn’t be a problem, the designers say. Each stalk would contain alternating layers of electrodes and ceramic discs made from piezoelectric material. Piezoelectric materials generate electrical current when put under pressure or compress, as discs would compress while the stalks sway in the wind.
A land-art park might mean choosing a power system that’s not the most super-efficient, but I think technology should be aesthetically pleasing whenever possible. Beauty is good for the soul!