Many of the offshore wind turbines we’ve mentioned so far have used a traditional, horizontal axis. However, vertical turbines also have their place on the water – and that place is pretty cool.
It Floats – but It’s Not a Boat
American Offshore Energy, a company focused on creating renewable energy for the United States, recently unveiled an interesting new design. By combining a sailboat mast with a bicycle wheel, they were able to create a stable, floating, vertical axis wind turbine.
What’s interesting about this particular turbine is that it has no center shaft. The circular design is actually held up by the blade of the turbine itself, minimizing the amount of parts needed and keeping the overall weight down. The blades are made out of foils intended for sails; the material is lightweight, durable, and specially designed to catch the wind.
Part of the reason this design works so well is the way the blades are arranged. Each blade is positioned above a stabilizing float, just underneath the red ring you can see in the image. The floats themselves are connected to three anchor lines which reach down to the sea floor, keeping the turbine from sailing away.
This isn’t the first floating turbine we’ve discussed, but the minimalist design is certainly innovative. Sails have been harnessing wind energy and converting it into kinetic energy for thousands of years. This process is a little less direct, since the energy will be stored before it’s used, but it’s still a wonder that this idea hasn’t been used sooner.
One of the other interesting features of this design is the attractive look. Many of this issues with turbines involve ruined views. Aside from the fact that a fleet of these turbines would be far away from living areas, the sails themselves are by no means bad looking. They also offer little to no danger to passing birds; the structure is clearly visible, and there are no horizontal blades to cause an accident.
There’s no word yet on where this design will be used, but so far it looks like a very promising take on offshore wind farming.