Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Renewable Energy

John Dabiri has hypothesized and tested counter-rotating arrays of vertical axis wind turb...

Since we first looked at John Dabiri's hypothesis that vertical axis wind turbines should be arrayed like a school of fish to reduce the land area required for wind farm installations, the MacArthur Genius Grant recipient has continued to work on the idea. Following the latest round of coverage, Gizmag takes a deeper look at his concept, and wonders whether the idea of packing turbines into as tight a space as possible might overlook some wind energy fundamentals.  Read More

The ARES system uses electric locomotives as a form of energy storage

We’ve recently looked at ocean-based energy storage system concepts from MIT and Subhydro AS that are designed to overcome the intermittency problems of renewable energy sources like wind and solar by pumping water out of large tanks and using gravity to let it back in and generate electricity when needed. Santa Barbara, California-based company Advanced Rail Energy Storage (ARES) has come up with a land-based alternative that would provide grid scale energy storage using electric locomotives.  Read More

Tighthouse is a refit of an existing NYC row house (Photo: Hai Zhang)

Architectural design firm Fabrica718 recently completed the very first Passive House Institute (PHI) certified house to be located in New York City. Dubbed Tighthouse, the property is based on an existing row house which is over a hundred years old and has been extensively retrofitted to meet the exacting Passive House standard.  Read More

Aaron Sebens and his class of fourth-graders from the Central Park School for Children in ...

Aaron Sebens and his class of fourth-graders from the Central Park School for Children in Durham, North Carolina hit Kickstarter back in March to try and raise enough money for their classroom to go off-grid. A rather modest target of US$800 was smashed within a day by the kindness of the international community and, at campaign end, the kids found themselves with the handsome sum of $5,817 to spend on the purchase and installation of a roof-mounted solar energy harvesting system. A wind turbine was added to the shopping list, and just two months later, the 208ers threw a huge "Flip the Switch" party to celebrate leaving the grid. Sebens reports that the classroom has been running on renewables ever since.  Read More

Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm, UK (Photo: Harald Pettersen/Statoil)

Squirreled away beneath a recent Telegraph report on the subtleties of badger-culling in the UK was this intriguing morsel of wind energy news, which would seem to challenge the idea that intermittent energy sources such as wind play havoc with grid management. For the 23,700 gigawatt-hours of electrical energy generated by wind in the UK between April 2011 and September 2012, only 22 GWh of electrical energy from fossil fuels "was needed to fill the gaps when the wind didn't blow," it reports. Gizmag contacted the UK National Grid to find out the details.  Read More

TwingTec's Twing (or tethered wing) prototype

Poised halfway between the complexity of Makani and the simplicity of SkySails, the TwingTec TwingKite (or simply Twing, short for tethered wing) uses an advanced lightweight construction to generate energy from the wind. It has been awarded 10,000 Swiss Francs by the Venture Kick start-up funding program.  Read More

Slip House, by Carl Turner Architects

Slip House, by UK-based Carl Turner Architects, fits neatly into a four-plot lot between a row of terraced houses in Brixton, London. However, it's not quite your typical two-up-two down, as the prototype family home combines sustainable technologies with an unusual design based on three "slipped" orthogonal boxes.  Read More

Are 'innovative' wind technologies ever a match for three-blade turbines?

Virtually every week there are articles about new and innovative methods for harvesting wind energy. And every week more megawatts of capacity from three-blade horizontal-axis wind turbines (HAWT) becomes operational, despite all of the contenders. Why aren't these innovative new products knocking the iconic HAWT off its perch? Is it possible to tell which are likely to be viable? These eight points are a useful way to assess which technology has potential, and which are likely just hot air.  Read More

Makani Power's Wing 7 prototype Airborne Wind Turbine (AWT) will now benefit from the back...

Having already put its Google Wallet where its mouth by backing a solar power tower plant in California to the tune of US$168 million, Google has now turned to wind power. According to a report from Bloomberg Businessweek, the search giant has acquired Makani Power, a California-based startup whose Airborne Wind Turbine (AWT) technology first caught our interest in 2011.  Read More

Belatchew Arkitekter has proposed converting the Söder Torn building in Stockholm into an ...

Despite being the most common renewable energy technologies, solar panels and wind turbines still have their shortcomings. Particularly when it comes to the urban environment. Lack of space and concerns about noise are just two problems with integrating them into city settings in an unobtrusive way. That's why Belatchew Arkitekter wants to try a different approach with its Strawscraper concept, which proposes transforming the Söder Torn building in Stockholm into an urban wind farm by covering it in piezoelectric fibers.  Read More

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