Wind turbine technology is one of the most promising renewable energy sources available, but it's not without controversy. Although turbines provide innumerable benefits for the environment and humanity by eliminating greenhouse gas emissions, there are some concerns about the effect wind farms have on local ecosystems, particularly avian culture, and residents who live nearby.
These considerations are not without some merit, and the good news is that engineers are constantly researching and developing new ways to harvest energy from the wind without having detrimental impact on the environment.
A recent feature in WebEcoist.com, an environmental news site, provided a list of some alternative designs to wind turbine technology that are currently being developed by scientists around the world. We wanted to list a few that we though were particularly interesting:
- There have been proposals for quiet, bird-safe turbines being installed on skyscrapers, where there is no shortage of wind gusts. These designs can be integrated into the architecture of the building so that they don't create eyesores for residents.
- Mecanoo, an Dutch architectural firm, has been working with the Delft University of Technology in Delft, Netherlands, to develop a blade-less windmill that uses charged droplets of water moving through a series of steel tubes to generate power. The design is silent and poses no threat to wildlife.
- One proposal involves attaching solar panels to turbine blades. University of Liverpool scientists have come up with a turbine model that would generate energy both from wind and solar simultaneously, saving space and increasing efficiency.
Hopefully, these designs won't simply be filed away in the "too expensive to implement" category, as sometimes happens with promising new technologies. Keep checking back with LifeIsGreen.com as we continue to track progress in the renewable energy sector.