Environment

Windstalk concept is a wind farm without the turbines

The Windstalk concept would generate electricity from the wind without turbines
The Windstalk concept would generate electricity from the wind without turbines
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The Windstalk concept at night
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The Windstalk concept at night
The Windstalk concept from the air
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The Windstalk concept from the air
The Windstalk concept
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The Windstalk concept
The Windstalk concept at night
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The Windstalk concept at night
The Windstalk concept
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The Windstalk concept
The Windstalk concept at night
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The Windstalk concept at night
The Windstalk concept would generate electricity from the wind without turbines
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The Windstalk concept would generate electricity from the wind without turbines

Wind turbines are an increasingly popular way to generate clean energy with large-scale wind farms springing up all over the world. However, many residents near proposed wind farm sites have raised concerns over the aesthetics and the low frequency vibrations they claim are generated by wind turbines. An interesting Windstalk concept devised by New York design firm Atelier DNA could overcome both these problems while still allowing a comparable amount of electricity to be generated by the wind.

Devised as a potential clean energy generation project/tourist attraction for Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City, the Windstalk concept consists of 1,203 carbon fiber reinforced resin poles, which stand 55 meters (180 feet) high and are anchored to the ground in concrete bases that range between 10 and 20 meters (33-66 ft) in diameter. The poles, which measure 30cm (12 in.) in diameter at the base, tapering up to a diameter of 5cm (2 in.) at the top, are packed with a stack of piezoelectric ceramic discs. Between the discs are electrodes that are connected by cables that run the length of each pole – one cable connects the even electrodes, while another connects the odd ones.

So, instead of relying on the wind to turn a turbine to generate electricity, when the pole sways in the wind, the stack of piezoelectric discs are compressed, generating a current through the electrodes. In a nice visual way to indicate how much – if any – power the poles are generating, the top 50cm (20 in.) of each pole is fitted with an LED lamp that glows and dims relative to the amount of power. So when the wind stops, the LED’s go dark.

The Windstalk concept at night
The Windstalk concept at night

As a way to maximize the amount of electricity the Windstalk farm would generate, the concept also places a torque generator within the concrete base of each pole. As the poles sway, fluid is forced through the cylinders of an array of current generating shock absorbers to convert the kinetic energy of the swaying poles into electrical energy.

Because the electricity generation capabilities of a Windstalk field site would depend on the wind, the designers have devised a way to store the energy. Below the field of poles would be two large chambers located on top of each other and shaped like the bases of the poles but inverted, (see the cross section image of the pole base section below). When the wind is blowing, part of the electricity generated is used to power a set of pumps that moves water from the lower chamber to the upper one. Then, when the wind dies down, the water flows from the upper chamber down to the lower chamber, turning the pumps into generators.

The Windstalk concept
The Windstalk concept

The WIndstalk project is still only a concept, so the designers haven’t determined the optimal shape for the stalks, saying computer simulations could be used to devise the best profile for maximizing the pole’s movement and variation. Even so, the design team estimates that the overall electricity output of the concept would be comparable to that of a conventional wind turbine array because, even though a single wind turbine that is limited to the same height as the poles may produce more energy than a single Windstalk, the Windstalks can be packed in much denser arrays.

The Atelier DNA Windstalk concept took out second prize in the Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) competition this year that asked entrants to “design a series of land/environmental art installations that uniquely combine aesthetic intrigue and artistic concept with clean energy generation.”

31 comments
mrhuckfin
Well I have to admit that if this works that this is one of the most clever wind generators I\'ve ever heard of? :-)
Anumakonda Jagadeesh
Wonderful concept. If it is realised practically,it will be a major breakthrough in Wind Energy Utilisation. Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India
gormanwvzb
I think I would prefer to see wind stalks than windmills. From a building like the Burj Dubai (I know, its not in Abu Dhabi), it would probably look like a small meadow. Masdar City has a lot of great ideas. I read a great article about it (http://cleanerairforcities.blogspot.com/2009/06/masdar-green-city-for-abu-dhabi.html). The solar collection systems are pretty cool as well.
Richard Cook
When they say \"may generate coparable power,\" it sounds like they mean the same power per land area. The important metric is of course $$$/watt-hour and environmental impact. Both are apparently not important enough to mention in the article, however!
Davey
Couldn\'t something like this be used to generate wave power?
jrup
The ideas just keep on comin\'! How\'s this for a desert forest? And functional, too. Works day and night, probably makes interesting music and might even encourage crops between the stalks. It will also be a pychodelic experience driving the highways at dawn and dusk.
Soundoctor
While the concept is fine, (except for the water part which destroys the efficiency) I think the stalks will simply take one problem and shift it: instead of a low freq rumbling, (largely caused by imbalances in the rotor systems of huge wind turbines) now there will be an eerie whistle which residents or neighbors will (mark my words) find even more annoying than the rumble.
HenryFarkas
The other problem with this concept, besides the valid point made by Soundoctor, is that because the wind stalks would be quite close together, the underlying land wouldn\'t be usable for growing crops or grazing animals. Henry
Ullrich Fischer
Great idea. It could be used in offshore installations. The stalks are likely to be more durable than wind turbines of comparable capacity and as Davey points out, a similar array (probably with stalk lengths and thicknesses tuned to deal with wave and current motion could be set up to protrude from the bottom of the offshore platform to harness wave and current motions to supplement the wind power generated by the stalks on the upper surface of the platform. Maybe the stalks and the spaces between them could also be covered with photocells to harness solar energy at the same time... or the space between stalks could be given over to algae farms supplied with seawater to convert atmospheric CO2 to biodiesel. If the buoyancy and thickness of the downward pointing stalks were adjusted appropriately, they could partly lift the platform above the average water surface to maximize the motion of those stalks relative to the platform.
DanMar Dinsmore
The tower/propeller wind turbans kill birds with the low pressure area created behind the propeller. 1200 birds a month in the East Bay installation alone. Where a ridge funnel with exhaust towers would work better. Lower profile less of an eyesore. There are many better designs and they would cause less collateral damage. And produce more power. Why aren\'t we using them?