Vortex Bladeless turbine will change wind energy
A few startups are seeking to change the face of wind energy generation with the introduction of bladeless wind turbines. Vortex Bladeless has come up with a design dubbed by Reddit users the ‘Skybrator’, that could offer a solution to many of the problems associated with traditional wind turbines. Find out how by reading on.
Before we get into the Skybrator and its virtues, it’s worth starting off with a little bit about wind turbines, what the problems are with them, and why they need solving.
How do wind turbines work?
Traditional wind turbines work by channelling energy from the wind to spin a set of blades positioned on a rotor, which in turn spins a generator in order to produce electricity. This simple process has remained largely unchained, except for the occasional improvement in aerodynamics, from the outset of wind energy generation.
The problem with traditional wind turbines is that they take up a lot of space, making them not particularly efficient and also contributing largely to the fact that they are considered by many to be an eyesore. This has led to a certain amount of resistance to wind farm development, but with wind being the renewable energy source with the biggest potential in the UK, these are problems that we’ve simply had to live with.
Is the future of wind energy bladeless?
In answer to the above problems, the Vortex Bladeless wind turbine is said to be able to harness the power of the wind without spinning blades for generating electricity. The Madrid-based startup has designed a curve-topped cylinder that is fixed vertically with an elastic rod which oscillates (swings back and forth) in response to the wind, generating energy in this way instead of by rotating.
The Vortex bladeless wind turbine is smaller than a traditional turbine, standing at just three metres high (10 feet), and does not need as much space to install. It also doesn’t have the same impact on an area that traditional turbines do, so it can be placed in urban and residential areas as well as in the countryside, and is ideal for small-scale or on-site energy generation.
The design addresses important environmental concerns raised by traditional wind turbines, such as their effect on bird migration patterns and other wildlife, which we’re glad to see. It’s also been backed by Norway’s state energy company, so we hope to see more development on it in the near future.
Online forum users dub Vortex design the SkybratorThe design has immediately caught the attention of Reddit users. A thread on the popular online forum has attracted significant attention, with the bladeless wind turbine being dubbed the Skybrator.
The Vortex Bladeless wind turbine is not the only model that’s pushing the envelope on wind energy generation. A Kent-based startup called Alpha 311 has created another small vertical turbine that can generate energy without any wind. Its model is designed to fit onto streetlights and use displaced air from passing cars to generate electricity.
The Alpha 311 turbine is about two metres tall and made from recycled plastic, and when placed at the side of a motorway can generate the same amount of electricity as 20m sq of solar panels. This is enough to power the streetlight and send some electricity to the local grid.
Bladeless wind turbines a ‘complement’ to existing turbines
While these new models are innovative and will certainly help to enhance the wind energy and renewable energy industry on the whole, they are not designed to replace existing turbines. David Yáñez, the inventor of the Vortex Bladeless wind turbine, told The Guardian that he is “not against traditional wind farms”:
Our technology has different characteristics which can help to fill the gaps where traditional wind farms might not be appropriate.
Yáñez sees the Vortex turbine more like wind energy’s equivalent to the solar panel tiles people have installed at home to improve their energy efficiency: “They complement each other well, because solar panels produce electricity during the day while wind speeds tend to be higher at night.”
In the same way there are both solar energy farms and solar tiles for the home, he sees potential for bladeless turbines people can install at home.
We certainly see the potential in these startups and we hope to be seeing big things from them in the near future. They will be key to an energy industry which doesn’t contribute to the climate emergency.