Despite numerous refinements and improvements to the technology used to harness the power of the wind, windmills of old share an obvious characteristic with their gigantic modern counterparts. They're static. A network of designers coming together under the banner of Pope Designs has come up with a mobile wind turbine concept that could just change all that. Able to generate and store enough power to meet its own needs, the turbine could also be erected anywhere the wind blows to provide a source of clean energy to those who need it.
The designers don't mention exactly how much power generation is possible from the concept and given that it stands a good deal shorter than many of its static cousins that have now become such a familiar sight, ratings in megawatts are doubtful. However, the ability to temporarily locate wind turbines wherever the need may arise presents an attractive prospect.
The idea of the mobile wind turbine concept is to place a three blade turbine on the back of a huge, six-wheeled truck. Once driven to a windy spot close to the site which requires an injection of clean power, the first order of business would be to make the support structure stable. A couple of stabilizer supports on each side of the vehicle expand outwards, each driving hydraulic spikes into the ground at a 26 degree tilt towards the structure and to a depth of 18-inches (45.72cm).
The glass-filled, thermoplastic tower consists of two pieces joined so that when raised they open like scissors. The lightweight but strong, self-erecting tower is raised using hydraulics on the main boom and a winch on the top section. Wires from each of the four supports help keep the tower in position. One of the turbine blades is permanently mounted on the rotor hub, the others being detachable for ease of transport.
As the single-occupant cab might suggest, this is a one man operation where the driver would attach all of the blades with the help of a self-threading mechanism. Once in place, the tower would be raised without falling outside of the vehicle's footprint of 62.5 x 45 feet (19 x 13.7m). At full stretch, the tower is raised to 97.6 feet (29.76m) above the ground.
The mobile wind turbine runs off its own generated power but when stored energy is low, a diesel generator would automatically start up and take over. As well as helping to make the platform more stable, heavy batteries would also store generated power when there's little or no energy demand. For large scale portable power needs, several mobile turbines could be set up, with trailer-sized battery storage units taking any power that the generators don't use.
Pope Design sees the mobile wind turbine as being useful for providing clean power for such things as vertical drills, air compressors and a host of electrically-driven tools. More than what it can power, perhaps the most attractive feature of this concept is the ability to place it wherever it's needed, for as long as its needed.
Imagine a housing development built using wind power, where the turbines move on when the work is done. Or a rock concert where the amplifiers and lighting needs are met by a number of turbines close by. Remote research outposts, military bases, disaster relief and so on. A road legal, lightweight version could also be made available to schools, exhibitions or business parks.
See the stories that matter in your inbox every morning