Thursday, June 18, 2009

Next generation wind farms

Next Generation contest 2009 with its very prestigious prize is over and the winner is so called "Wind-it" project created by French team. A French team of one engineer along with two architects has won this year’s prestigious part thanks to some really innovative ideas that could be used in installation of future wind farms.

The biggest problem many people connect with wind farms is their size, or to be more precise the size of territory they need since they usually need very large area for all necessary installations. Not only that many people complain how they are spoiling the true beauty of environment but French tam showed how this can be done by using current, already existing infrastructure.

They suggest the use of already existing towers and pylons that for instance dot the more than 157,000 miles of high voltage power lines in the U.S. Basically what this team is saying is that we should locate these large structures into transmission towers which already exist so this way landscape won't be changed and wind farms would be simply and wisely integrated. So simple, and yet so genius.

When French team was asked how they would solve the problem of transmission for easier transfer of wind created energy they said that the best solution would be to link energy generation and electricity transmission in the same way–by co-locating them. It sounds really simple, but in reality it can be nonetheless very effective.

Just imagine we could use already built infrastructure to explore wind energy. This would significantly decrease installation costs saving a lot of money for investors.

Connection of towers and turbines could really make the boost in wind energy sector. Some calculations say if U.S. would about to implement this new idea into its existing infrastructure this would be enough for somewhere around 15 % of current U.S. energy demand, so this idea really deserves further research, especially since implementing this isn't exactly a piece of cake.

The biggest problem in implementing this "Wind-it" project in U.S. is the fact that American power grid is clogged, archaic, and above all too small so it would be unlikely to expect that Wind-it would be able to transmit to electricity to the cities where it is needed the most.

In order to fully utilise the advantages of this Wind-it project U.S. would really have to build new towers, which is something that many experts have already suggested. If U.S. would decide to go for it than this would really be something of a two-in-a-one project with double benefits but also with rather high installation costs.

In any case this project is at least worthy to have in mind when building future tower infrastructure because with reasonable additional costs we could have coexisting two-in-one project that has significantly smaller price than it would be if those were two single projects. It also wouldn't degrade the landscape, and would mean more energy from renewable energy sources so it definitely deserves more attention. Such innovative solutions are really necessary if world wants to be free of fossil fuel dependency in years to come. Whether we will succeed in that or no still remains to be seen. But innovation projects such like this one could really make the difference so I'm really hoping to see more of this.

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