The low-cost, low-profile design replaces rotating turbine blades with wings that speed round an oval track
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Spotted: The cost of onshore wind energy has fallen steadily over the last decade. However, wind installations have also steadily increased in size, and while bigger turbines generate more energy, they also make it more difficult to secure public approval and find financing, appropriate sites, and materials. Wind company AirLoom is taking a new approach to address these challenges.
Instead of huge blades on tall towers, AirLoom’s design consists of vertically oriented, 10-metre-long wings attached to a lightweight track. The blades intercept the wind, which propels them down the track, generating power. Supported by 25-metre-tall poles arranged in an oval, the track can range in length from metres to miles, depending on the desired scale.
A key advantage of the design is that it is quieter and lower profile than skyline-dominating turbines, which could help to reduce complaints about local disruption and ruined views. The system is also low-cost and modular, which means it can be deployed at different scales using a standard set of components.
AirLoom recently announced that it has secured $4 million (around €3.7 million) in seed funding. The round was led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund, which supports new clean technologies, with participation from Lowercarbon Capital and energy fund MCJ Collective. The money will help AirLoom scale up to the megawatt scale and full deployment.
Despite the difficult market for new wind energy projects, a number of innovations seek to make wind power more affordable. These include a low-cost, single-bladed floating turbine and small turbines for powering microgrids.
Written By: Lisa Magloff and Matthew Hempstead