The Beauty of the Modern Day Wind Turbine
By Alex 13-07-2020
With the energy market in the UK looking to further explore shale gas resources and public opinion widely condenmning it, is it time to rethink the opposition towards the wind turbine….
In the UK energy market, we’re continually seeing new and innovative methods of utilising renewable and non-renewable resources being developed to meet the ever increasing energy demand to fuel our products and services. Most recently, the technique of fracking has become central to the government’s vision for how to stabilise energy supplies for the future generation within the UK, although with widespread angst and condemnation upon the extent of it’s use, it’s future may not be all so certain. Just today, we’ve witnessed the impact that opposition can have in derailing the day to day running of such facilities, with a drilling facility in Sussex, South England being temporarily closed. Cuadrilla, the company currently overseeing an exploration study to understand whether the area is suitable for future fracking was advised by police to shut down the site as an expected 1,000 protesters are due to arrive within the coming days.
1.Drilling facility, Sussex
Whilst opposition to this new technology is still emerging as the investigative work continues across the UK, resentment to alternative methods of energy production is nothing new. We need only look back a few years to see the upheaval that come about through the wind turbine being considered as an alternative source of energy production. Whilst many argued that it was an eyesore and blighted the image of rural life and the countryside, when compared to the likes of shale gas facilities that are being set up across rural locations in the UK, it’s impact is hardly that disturbing. There’s a degree of responsibility we all may need to take to appreciate that if we want to continue to enjoy our way of living, then sacrifices may need to be made somewhere down the line…Even reconsidering if that wind turbine down the road that was opposed to was really justified now having the knowledge of what alternatives there are.
But there’s plenty to be celebrated in terms of innovation and adoption of new wind-powered technologies across the world, with design having a big role to play in helping to remove the fear aspect from its presence. China which tops the list for wind energy capacity has led the way so far in installing wind farms across it’s country with around 67.7 gigawatts available. If we look closer to home, Germany now has a capacity of around 30 gigawatts, going some way to meet the EU target of having a 100 gigawatt capacity. At the moment in the UK, we have a capacity to provide just over 10 gigawatts of wind power through our onshore and offshore facilities, although this is constantly increasing with expansion. So whilst there is still much of a journey to be had in terms of adopting wind technology, it is heading in the right direction.
As we said, the influence of design upon the wind turbine is having a huge impact, with different concepts being created constantly. Through the influence of the design process, other factors are being taken into account which have not previously been considered, especially in terms of how they visually interact and communicate with their surrounding environments and the people in their locality. One of the beautiful aspects of the wind turbine is its ability to communicate energy itself through its movement. We can instantly recognise the relationship between the wind and the mechanical movement of the blades, leading to the creation of electricity at the other end. To have that process stripped down and transparent gives it a degree of innocence and honesty, which cannot be said for the alternatives.
Below are some notable innovations in terms of design, each having their own strengths in terms of the application of the technology and improvements made to the existing design and mechanical set up. The highway wind tube concept by TAK studio looks to use the same principles of a conventional wind power turbine, but through the road side where passing traffic generates the blade movement. The electrical energy is then used to power the lights above. As a system, it makes perfect sense, as the lights are only required when traffic is present. Whilst its still in the development stages, it shows great promise of fruition in the future.
2.Highway Wind Turbine
3.Personal Wind Turbine
4.Quiet Revolution QR5 Turbine
The revolver; a personal wind turbine by Frog (image 3) started life as a relatively blue sky concept, whereby the need was set out for a personalised method of power supply from the wind. Capable of providing 35 Watts from a breeze, its uses are endless when taking into account it convenient size when folded down. The product claims to be able to provide enough energy to hold a laptop charge, light a lantern, power a radio and recharge a phone. It may not offer a mass solution for our energy needs, but the difference could be surprising if such methods were taken up on a large scale.
One of the downfalls of conventional wind turbines currently in use is the vibration and noise generated from them, causing some disturbance to those in the local surroundings. Quiet revolution; a wind turbine manufacturing company based in the UK was quick to tackle this issue and improve upon it, leading to a number of innovative alternatives being introduced to market. The qr5 is one of their recent developments which become an all too familiar sight at the 2013 Olympic games in London.
5.The QR5 at the London Olympic Park
Whilst the three examples highlight the different scales of use currently being investigated and developed, there are many more ideas being considered which will hopefully see the light of day in the future. One concept which has attracted much attention is the EWICON device currently being developed at Delft University of Technology. It proposes a wind mill that has no moving parts and functions through charging droplets which are blown away by the wind. The movement of the droplets produces electric power that can be transferred to the main electricity grid.
The concept is an exciting movement in the wind energy field, revolutionising the process of harnessing the natural force of nature and offers an intriguing insight into where the future of renewable energy capture could be heading.
If the physical presence of the wind turbine can continue to build upon its relationship with its surroundings and be seen as something that has a sense of belonging, then its future could blossom further. Whilst progress is continually being made to expand non-renewable energy extraction despite growing concerns upon the damage it can cause to both the natural world and the people living in it, wind power and other renewable energy technologies are continuing to innovate. For those who have opposed wind turbines in the past, would it now become a preferred option if the choice was given between fracking taking place or a wind turbine being erected…the decision would seem quite an easy one!