Green Technology Spotlight: Wind Towers Instead of Wind Turbines

A company called SheerWind, Inc. is developing a wind technology that purportedly can generate 25 megawatts without having to build a mega-size turbine.

One of its INVELOX towers produces four times the energy of the biggest offshore turbine and six times that of the largest onshore turbine.

If the technology gets off the ground, one tower would supply 25,000 US homes at a fraction of the size and cost of traditional wind turbines, says SheerWind.

It works in a somewhat analogous way to concentrating solar.

It captures, accelerates and concentrates wind in a tower, increasing the velocity of wind. “By concentrating and accelerating wind, we create a similar effect to natural wind corridors used by traditional wind towers. We are able to exceed current industry standards and make wind power costs competitive with fossil fuels,” says Cyndi Lesher, Executive VP of Sheerwind, and former CEO of Xcel Energy Company. And this is without subsidies.

The technology has been reviewed and validated by experts at major research universities and prototypes have been tested under controlled laboratory conditions.

Here’s how SheerWind describes the technology:

Conventional wind turbines use massive turbine generator systems mounted on top of a tower. INVELOX, by contrast, funnels wind energy to ground-based generators. Instead of snatching bits of energy from the wind as it passes through the blades of a rotor, wind is captured with a funnel and directed through a tapering passageway that naturally accelerates its flow. This stream of kinetic energy then drives a generator that is installed safely and economically at ground level.

Bringing the airflow from the top of the tower to ground level allows for greater power generation with much smaller turbine blades. It also allows for networking, allowing multiple towers to direct energy to the same generator.

The unit is about 50% shorter than traditional wind towers and uses a ground-based turbine with blades that are 84% smaller. Fewer generators are required, so equipment and maintenance costs are lower. Most importantly, energy output is greater.

INVELOX is scalable, equally suitable for use in major wind farms or micro-generation settings. It will produce power effectively at much lower wind speeds than current systems do, which means it will have a dramatically wider geographical range of use.


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