Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Wind turbine

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

A conventional steel-column wind turbine (Photo: Patrick Finnegan)

Engineers at Iowa State University think concrete columns could be the key to building taller, higher-powered wind turbines. By making the switch from steel to concrete, it's thought that the upper limit of turbine column height could be raised from 80 m to over 100 m.  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

Urban Green Energy (UGE) has unveiled its newest mid-range wind turbine, the VisionAIR, wh...

Urban Green Energy (UGE) recently unveiled its newest vertical-axis wind turbine, the VisionAIR, as part of an installation at the Beijing International Garden Expo. The company confirmed to Gizmag that the VisionAIR is replacing its former 4K turbine, last seen adorning the top of an EV charging station, as its standard mid-sized option for customers. Compared with the previous model, the new turbine's design aims for better efficiency at moderate wind speeds, which UGE plans to integrate with its hybrid energy projects.  Read More

The SKWID system, which harnesses power from both the wind and the tide, is scheduled to b...

There are already a wide variety of renewable energy systems that harness the power of the wind, along with some that generate power via the flow of ocean currents. According to Japanese engineering firm MODEC (Mitsui Ocean Development & Engineering Co.), however, its soon-to-be-tested SKWID system will be the first one to do both.  Read More

A new system being developed at MIT would store excess energy in concrete spheres on the s...

The intermittent nature of wind and solar power generation is one of the biggest challenges facing these renewable energy sources. But this isn’t likely to remain a problem for much longer with everything from flywheels to liquid air systems being developed to provide a cheaper form of energy storage than batteries for times when the wind is blowing or the sun isn’t shining. A new concept out of MIT can now be added to the the list of potential solutions. Aimed specifically at offshore wind turbines, the concept would see energy stored in huge concrete spheres that would sit on the seafloor and also function as anchors for the turbines.  Read More

Researchers in Australia have developed the PowerWINDows, a new type of wind turbine that ...

Wind farms may be hitting the big time, but that hasn't deterred inventors and technologists from tinkering, or even reinventing, the turbine itself. In the past few months we've seen wind energy systems that use discs attached to hydraulics and even charged water droplets, but how about skyscrapers outfitted with rotating window panels? This is the idea behind the University of Wollongong's PowerWINDows concept, a modular wind turbine designed to have less of an impact on the surrounding environment.  Read More

Helical Robotics' HR-MP20 wind turbine-inspecting robot

Currently, wind turbines are inspected for damage in two main ways: someone stands on the ground below them and uses a telescope, or people use rigging systems to actually climb across them. Now, Oregon, Wisconsin-based Helical Robotics is offering an alternative – camera-equipped turbine-climbing robots.  Read More

Dutch researchers have developed the EWICON, a bladeless windmill with no moving parts tha...

Wind energy may be one of the more sustainable sources of power available, but the spinning blades of conventional wind turbines require regular maintenance and have attracted criticism from bird lovers. That might explain why we've seen wind turbine prototypes that enclose the blades in a chamber or replace them entirely with a disc-like system. But researchers in the Netherlands set out to eliminate the need for a mechanical component entirely and created the EWICON, a bladeless wind turbine with no moving parts that produces electricity using charged water droplets.  Read More

Walgreens has revealed plans to build what it believes will be the first net zero retail s...

Drugstore chain giant Walgreens has announced its intention to build what the company believes will be the first net zero retail store in the United States. Once open for business, engineers anticipate that the combination of solar panels, wind turbines, geothermal technology, energy-efficient building materials, LED lighting and ultra-high-efficiency refrigeration will allow the new store to produce energy equal to or greater than it consumes.  Read More

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