The Winds of Change?

The Future of Wind Turbines

They seem to polarize opinion in a way that no other renewable technology does. They are a blot on the landscape or the future of energy production in the UK. Whatever you think of them, wind turbines are here to stay and they have become a part of our landscape in a way we would not have contemplated just a few years ago.

Despite government aims to curb subsidies to wind farm development, the future remains bright for this renewable technology. We have been using wind power for centuries and it is one of the simplest forms of energy production we have yet developed – blades turn in the wind, drive a central shaft and that turns a generator which makes valuable electricity.

Tubular Wind Turbines

In the future we may have to get used to the different shapes and sizes of wind turbines as research and development looks to improve on the initial propeller design. Earlier this year, the Daily Mail reported on the Invelox wind system developed in Minnesota in the US.

Capable of generating electricity from wind speeds as low as 2mph it uses funnels and tubes rather than huge blades to drive the turbine. It’s all about creating kinetic energy and it is estimated that something like the Invelox system will be able to produce 600% more electrical energy compared to their bladed counterparts.

Flying Wind Turbines

It’s not just ground based projects that are starting to catch the eye. According to Greenpeace, there are no less than 50 high altitude projects on the go that are attempting to harness the wind energy in our atmosphere. While it might sound like the stuff of science fiction, airborne wind energy could potentially provide a lot more power than the normal wind farms we know and love/hate today.

It may be that in the future we’ll be seeing arrays like the Altaeros BAT in our skies. And it has more potential uses than just simply providing large quantities of electricity:

Artistic  Wind Turbines

Wind turbine design might also be changing in the near future with art meeting energy as we try to make our landscape more appealing. One of the major sticking points in recent years for the wind turbine has been that communities have balked at the prospect of large farms despoiling their beautiful landscapes.

The future may well see a change in design with the stuff of science fiction filling our landscapes like this wind sail from Lake Ladoga in Russia.

Not Everyone Hates Wind Turbines

According to The Guardian recently our notion that wind farms are a blot on the landscape may amount to a media storm and be more than a little apocryphal. Nearly 50% of respondents to a survey said that they wouldn’t mind a wind farm being built within 5 miles of their home. It comes as another survey suggested that people are far more in favour of renewable energy sources than perhaps our own government are, and would like to see us moving more quickly towards a sustainable, independent, and cleaner future.

Whatever our feelings about the wind turbine, it is set to continue as one of the major sources of energy production in the world, and future developments may well see greater efficiency that take us beyond a need to rely on fossil fuels.