In terms of creating renewable energy, wind farms are one of the most popular choices when investing in large-scale infrastructure. The success of offshore wind farms in the UK has been noteworthy, and even in Australia there are series of the giant white turbines dotting the countryside.
Wind turbines’ polarising aesthetic and alleged illness-prompting noise, however, has divided nations in terms of their approach to wind power investment.
A new and unusual renewable energy technology proposal offers to make use of the power of wind without including the same drawbacks as wind turbines.
Known as Windstalk, the renewable energy alternative has been designed for Masdar City in Abu Dhabi by a team of designers including Darío Núñez Ameni and Thomas Siegl, Atelier dna, the structural engineering services of Radhi Majmudar PE, and Innovative Structural and Specialty Engineering (ISSE).
The proposal outlines the development of 1203 ‘stalks’, made of carbon fiber-reinforced resin, which will stand 55 metres tall and will be anchored to concrete bases 10 to 20 metres in diameter. The stalks themselves decrease in diameter from base to tip and will light up with the aid of LEDs as winds pick up.
While he aesthetic is certainly different from modern wind power infrastructure, it is the technical aspect contained within the base of each pole that truly stands out as innovative.
“Within each hollow pole is a stack of piezoelectric ceramic discs (and) between the ceramic disks are electrodes,” explains the development team.
These discs and electrodes are connected to a cable which runs up the pole. When wind causes the ‘stalks’ to sway, the discs compress, generating a current.
A generator, also contained in the base of the pole, converts the kinetic energy into electricity ‘by way of an array of current generating shock absorbers.’
While the developers admit that the electricity flow generated by the machinery would not be constant, the Windstalk initiative does have the benefit of mass quantity, with the devices able to be packed into denser spaces than wind turbines.
The developers believe the Windstalk initiative is both possible and feasible due to the fact that ‘it is based on a set systems that already exist and work.’
Only time will tell if and when this, or any other new renewable energy technology, will hit the commercial market. In the meantime, the design should inspire engineers and designers to think feasible innovations to aid in the continuing creation of a cutting edge green building sector.