While some companies and researchers are trying to figure out ways to capture powerful, consistent high-altitude winds to generate power, and today’s big developments typically use towers that rise several hundred feet into the air, Next-Gen Wind is keeping its feet – and its turbine – firmly on terra firma.
The Oklahoma City company has developed a ground-based wind power turbine that it says can increase wind velocity by 79 percent and produce nearly twice the energy of a traditional tower-based turbine with the same swept area. The turbine, featured recently in The Oklahoman newspaper, is the brainchild of Dr. Scott Calhoon, a surgeon who works as a consultant now – but clearly spends a lot of time dabbling in wind.
So how’s it work? According to the company, the funnel shape to the wind collection unit increases the volume density of the air mass, forcing it through a smaller tunnel where the multiblade wind energy collection rotors and generators are located. “The resulting concentration allows for optimal generating wind velocities, and provides the opportunity to harvest a larger fraction of the kinetic wind energy passing through the system, when compared to a traditional tower-based wind turbine platform,” the company says.
The assumption behind the project is that there are situations where it would be easier, less expensive and less environmentally invasive to generate power at ground level, rather than atop a tower. While ultimately Next-Gen imagines its turbine being part of utility-scale wind power plants, the company initially plans to focus on rural development and remote energy consumers, oil and gas exploration/production sites, irrigation and small farming.
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