I recently encountered a state-of-the-art wind tower on the freeway. The base was separated into three parts and the turbine into another three. Carried by six trailers flagged with “wide load” and trailed by escort cars. Yeah, it was big.
The current trend in wind power is to go bigger and bigger with more complex features. Including mag-lev, upper-atmosphere turbines, helicals, loopwings, skyscrapers, and highways (21 different types) .
But, none are more interesting (to me) than the Dutch Windmill and the tiny pinwheels. I really hope our future is a landscape dotted with structural beauties and childhood toys, rather than industrial aluminum.
Doug Selsam’s Sky Serpent uses an array of small rotors to catch more wind for less money. The key to increasing efficiency is to make sure each rotor catches its own fresh flow of wind and not just the wake from the one next to it, as previous multi-rotor turbines have done.
That requires figuring out the optimal angle for the shaft in relation to the wind and the ideal spacing between the rotors. The payoff is machines that use one tenth the blade material of today’s mega-turbines yet produce the same wattage. A wonderful and controversial design of which the inventor says:
“This is a 1,000 year-old design” of the single-bladed turbine, “I knew if I could get more rotors, I could get more power.”