Bladeless wind turbines – never bet against human ingenuity

New technology could make this kind of wind turbine obselete. (iStock)
New technology could make this kind of wind turbine obselete. (iStock)

My Princeton-educated pal Kanthan Pillay is a reliable source on scientific breakthroughs. And as he knows a bit about economics – and also frets about the cost of SA’s proposed nuclear programme – Kanthan’s clued up on the latest developments in renewable energy.

Yesterday he pointed me to a story on “bladeless” wind turbines. After first double checking the publication date (it wasn’t April 1) my fascination grew. Especially after becoming the 687 365th person to watch a three minute video on the amazing invention by Spanish company Vortex Bladeless.

The product, a 12 metre high cylinder that sticks out the ground, generates power through harnessing vorticity – whirlpools of wind – together with magnets. They work like a motor but without any gears or moving parts. At half the cost of existing wind turbines, commercialisation of these electricity generating giant straws is planned for mid-2017.

A reminder, not for the first time, that to avoid expensive mistakes (like investing $100bn into an archaic nuclear technology) we need always be mindful of the unknown unknowns. And to never underestimate the power of human ingenuity. Especially in a rapidly developing field like energy.

Video:

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