Today’s wind turbines have colossal blades that spin at speeds of more than 200mph (320 km/h).
While some might consider them majestic structures, others argue they are a threat to bird life and a noisy blight on the landscape.
Now a Spanish company has come up with a solution to ease opposition to the technology; a bladeless wind turbine that can generate more electricity for less.
Created by Madrid-based Vortex Bladeless, the technology takes advantage of something known as vorticity.
This is an aerodynamic phenomenon that create a pattern of spinning vortices in a certain area.
Vortex Bladeless’s founders, David Suriol, David Yáñez, and Raul Martín, believe vorticity is the future of ‘green energy’.
In their existing prototype, a long cone made from a composite of fiberglass and carbon fibre is designed to vibrate in the wind, according to a report in Wired.
Two rings of repelling magnets are positioned at the base of the cone, acting as a non-electric motor.
When the cone moves one way, one of the magnets pull it another direction.
This provides a boost to the mast’s movement, even when wind speeds are low, according to the company.
The movements is transformed into electricity using an alternator that increases the frequency of the mast’s movement.
Without the need for blades, the design could reduce manufacturing costs by 53 per cent compared to conventional multi-blade wind turbines, according to the company.
And the simple design means it doesn’t pose a risk to bird life or emit noise disturbance.
The team claim their prototype ‘Vortex Mini’, at 41ft tall (12 metres), can capture nearly half of the wind’s power in normal conditions. This is 30 per cent less than normal wind turbines.
‘Over the last four years, we developed a technology, from an idea to a proof of concept in the wind tunnel, and from the wind tunnel tests to multiple wind field tests,’ Suriol told Renewable Energy Magazine.
‘Currently we have a Vortex with all the technical milestones developed: oscillation, synchronisation to a different range of wind velocities and power generation.
‘From now we are optimising the whole device to have the first product.’
So far, the company has raised $1 million from private capital and government funding in Spain.
Vortex Bladeless say they now want to create a commercial, 100-watt turbine to market in 2018.