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.