A Wind Turbine Designed for Urban Areas

A recently revealed vertical wind turbine system is designed to mitigate alternative energy challenges for city landscapes.

A Wind Turbine Designed for Urban Areas

Regarding wind turbines, most of us picture giant windmill-like structures overtaking terrain, casting large shadows, even resulting in wildlife deaths. These cons raise skepticism around implementation despite the net positive of renewable energy.

Successful Adaptation

Wind energy is harvested in two main ways, a horizontal-axis wind turbine or a vertical-axis wind turbine, the former being the more common. In both designs, wind force turns turbine blades connected to a rotor and generator to produce energy.

In horizontal-axis wind turbines, large turbine blades are mounted on a structural pole ranging from 200 to 350 feet tall. Since horizontal-axis turbines are so large, they usually require vast land for installation.

Recently, the concept of offshore installation has gained momentum, providing more space and high wind generation. Horizontal-axis turbines are also being scaled down to fit buildings and national monuments.

The alternative vertical-axis wind turbine typically comes in a much smaller size, offering more straightforward implementation. It is also omnidirectional, meaning it doesn't "need to be adjusted to point into the wind to operate."

Though less common, vertical-axis wind turbines have potential, particularly in the realm of design, which is precisely what American designer and entrepreneur, Joe Doucet, capitalized on for his new concept.

Pleasing to the Eye

Doucet explains his vision on the website. "Designed to be as aesthetically pleasing as it is functional, this "kinetic wall" is made up of an array of rotary blades that spin individually, driving a mini generator that creates electricity. The electricity is utilized in the home or business, can be stored in a wall-mounted battery, or can even be fed back into the national grid to provide revenue for the owner."

Doucet's design doesn't require much land and is built to hide in plain sight. His current model stands at roughly 8 feet tall and 24 feet wide. It can generate up to 10,000kWh per year. Though the concept is still relatively new, Doucet's idea can accommodate various locations and utilize aluminum framing for structural integrity. It can also be made in black or white to suit its surrounding environment.

Doucet has a prototype and is currently working on getting his design patented. He believes his wind turbine could be scaled up significantly with time, research, and funding.

In an interview with Fast Company, Doucet said, "Instead of the typical retaining walls along roads and freeways, you'd have an array of these." "With the added wind boost from trucks, our highways could take care of all our energy needs."

Where It Began

The use of wind energy spans back thousands of years. One of the first known records dates back to 5000 BCE, when ancient Egyptians used wind energy to grind grain. The 'mill' was so ingenious and straightforward that it is still used in some parts of the world today.

Windmills inspired the modern-day horizontal-axis wind turbines, thus far one of the world's cheapest and most efficient forms of renewable energy generation.

Wind turbine popularity has grown so much that they are included in federal policy. For example, President Biden recently issued an Executive Order to rebuild American infrastructure and develop a clean energy economy. The Order specifically seeks to "expand opportunities for the offshore wind industry."

In the commercial sector, corporations around the globe are turning to wind power to offset their energy costs and lower their environmental footprint.

Doucet's design could help integrate wind energy into society and encourage mainstream adoption. By targeting the urban sector, Doucet provides a niche product that could help catapult alternative energy and sustainable development into the future.

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