The news has shouted plenty about the dangers to eagles and other birds from wind turbines. The problem is that turbines depend on those huge blades to help harvest wind and turn it into renewable energy we can depend on. But there’s a new guy on the block that hopes to change that.
Minnesota-based SheerWind has created an unusual type of wind turbine that doesn’t feature those long blades. This innovative machine features a funnel that can produce 600 percent more power than a conventional wind device, and with lower installation and maintenance costs. The funnel captures air at the top and squeezes it through a turbine at the bottom. Wind entering at 10 miles per hour ends up as fast as 40 mph, says the company’s founder, meaning it’s no longer necessary to go to a hilltop for optimum conditions.
Created by Dr. Daryoush Allaei, a scientist and entrepreneur who holds more than 20 U.S. and 15 international patents, the latest version of Sheer Wind’s INVELOX is 60 feet high and about 6.5 feet in diameter. With the spinning blades of a turbine out of the sky and safely at or below ground level, this eliminates the risk for harming eagles or wildlife.
“By concentrating and accelerating wind, we create a similar effect to the natural wind corridors used by traditional wind towers, said Cyndi Lesher, SheerWind’s Executive VP & Chief Administrative Officer and former president and CEO, NSP an Excel Energy Company “We can also install in low wind conditions, and close to human populations—safely out of the range of eagle flight patterns and nesting sights,” she said.
With a promise of 8 times smaller footprint that traditional wind turbines and a 50 percent shorter tower height, INVELOX technology has been reviewed and validated by a technical advisory board, as well as a team of experts from major research universities and agencies. Prototypes were tested under controlled laboratory conditions, and test results were used to build and validate full-scale computational fluid dynamic models. Field data collected to date has validated results.
“The question is more about the business,” he said. “Can we bring the cost down and compete with a well established industry?”
Allaei noted $2 million in funding so far, and that three of the five largest turbine manufacturers have looked over the technology.
If this technology really lives up to its promise, this new wind device could not only revolutionize the wind industry, it would definitely eliminate the devastating issue of bird deaths from wind turbines. It would be a huge win all around. Here’s hoping this company succeeds big time.