Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. While some wind-energy advocates fawn over the sight of a few turbines on the horizon, others may prefer neither to see nor hear the production of clean energy. Canadian turbine manufacturer, Wind-Do, believes community wind turbines can and should work in silence without detracting from their surroundings.
The company says its Midscale Networked Wind Turbine creates little noise or visual distraction, despite a unique design.
At 20-kW and 20-m tall, a standard Midscale is about the size of an average tree, but can scale in height to meet site requirements. Each turbine has six to 12 horizontal “struts” that support four Darrieus blades. The Darrieus or vertical-axis design means the turbine need not be pointed into the wind. The struts and blades are typically painted to suit a turbine’s surroundings, such as a light blue or green to match the sky or nearby trees.
This means that at a distance of 500m, Wind-Do’s Midscale turbine is tough to spot. At 300m, the tower is noticeable but its blades blend into the background setting. While it is visibly spinning at 200m, you won’t hear it working.
Quiet operation of wind turbines is critical to the success of many onshore wind projects, particularly those near cities and small communities. In fact, big wind companies such as Siemens have dedicated extensive R&D and launched aerodynamic, serrated blade attachments to reduce the noise of its wind turbines. Wind-Do’s Midscale requires no blade add-ons.
The vertical-axis “strut” design works in conjunction with a computerized speed control feature, which lets the blades optimize power production based on local wind speeds and direction. They can also generate power in lower than average wind regions, and a full wind farm can produce 100 kW up to 3 MW.
What’s more is the Midscale is capable of storing excess power on windy days. Wind-Do offers customers the option of a hybrid, heat-storage system that can store wind energy when there’s more than the transmission grid can handle. Power is stored in onsite GSG modules, which convert energy into high-temperature heat that can be used to power industrial processes, heat greenhouses, or provide low-cost electricity to nearby buildings.
Wind-Do says its mission is to provide customers with low-cost, wind-generated electricity without subsidies, noise, or visual disturbances. The company suggests a few comparisons between conventional wind turbines and an entire Midscale wind farm, also available on its website.
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