As the world moves to more renewable methods of generating electricity and cities become smarter, smart solutions to creating energy through innovation are going to be necessary.
A video featured on Interesting Engineering’s Telegram page featured a new vertical axis wind turbine that promises to capture wind specifically generated near inner cities and coastlines around the world. The turbine in question is the ENLIL vertical axis wind turbine, also known as a VAWT.
The engineering company behind the design of the VAWT is Devecitech. The turbine can be placed onshore ocean-side and capture some of the winds blowing from the sea landward, but there is another area of untapped potential these turbines could fit into: roads.
The movement of vehicles creates air that could power the turbine. Fast and continuous flow of traffic on roads can create a perfect environment for the turbine. Wind generated from moving vehicles and natural winds on highways will keep the turbine running. Moreover, the solar panels positioned atop the turbine capture more electricity.
The engineers attached to the project say that the turbine is capable of generating 1KW/h every day - the equivalent of powering two households.
The VAWT also has built in sensors that will measure the carbon footprint, the city’s temperature, humidity, and more. Meaning, the turbine can be a good addition to the interconnected smart city of the future. All of the data and analytics will be accessible via an app.
The turbine can help create electricity for the road infrastructure that requires electricity, such as: traffic monitoring systems, toll gates, toll gantries and the streetlights.
The Chinese are questioning the benefits of vertical axis wind turbines in their cities.
Research company, IDTechEx Research, has performed a study on ‘Electrically Smart Roads 2018-2028’. They report that VAWT setups are still at too high a price point and foresee that solar will be preferable as photovoltaic cell prices continue to drop.
Raghu Das, CEO of IDTechEx says:
“The price gap between the ubiquitous polycrystalline silicon solar cell and the much more efficient single crystal silicon is narrowing. That means the road furniture such as bus shelters and smart gantries will likely go for more solar than adding wind power in many cases because wind power needs a lot of maintenance and its price is not dropping as rapidly.”
Das believes that the H shaped VAWTs are also too loud for residential areas. The vibration the turbines undergo generates a noise.
Dr Hiromichi Akimoto, a Professor of Engineering at Osaka University Center for the Advancement of Research and Education Exchange Networks in Asia, taking to a question and answer website Quora, explains why VAWTs have not been historically utilized despite the technology being available:
“Getting high efficiency of VAWT in a small scale is difficult. It is because the performance of VAWT is very sensitive to the lift/drag ratio of a blade and it is not good in the low Reynolds number condition of small applications. Another factor is its peaky power curve (power vs tip-speed ratio). Because of its narrow peak, keeping the optimum point is difficult for a small VAWT in an urban area where fluctuation of wind is significant.”
Consequently, most VAWT setups are just futuristic experimentations for now. More research and development is going into VAWT all the time; the more commercially known, utility scale, HAWT (Horizontal Axis Wind Turbine) will remain what most people usually think of when thinking about wind power.
“Enlil Vertical Axis Wind Turbine.” YouTube, YouTube, 29 May 2018, www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjgIYJ_9aIM.
“Top 16 Telegram Channels for Tech and Engineering Enthusiasts.” Interesting Engineering, 2 May 2018, interestingengineering.com/top-16-telegram-channels-for-tech-and-engineering-enthusiasts.
“Why aren’t Vertical-Axis Wind Turbines more popular?