The Nature Conservancy has completed its first phase of installation of SheerWind’s INVELOX funnel-based wind power technology. Because Palmyra is home to a national wildlife refuge and more than a million nesting seabirds, conventional wind turbines were not an option due to the risk of bird strikes. What’s more, the low wind speeds on the island would provide little to no energy production with traditional turbines.
The Conservancy turned to the Minnesota firm SheerWind to design the system resembling an hourglass turned on its side. Extending 83 feet horizontally with a big wind scoop at one end, an exhaust on the other, a Venturi section in the middle increases wind speed potentially three to six times. Nets over the intake and enclosed blades keep it bird friendly. The first phase of the installation includes a single turbine inside the Venturi, allowing for two additional to be installed in the near future.
The first phase of the INVELOX project is successfully charging batteries at night and on cloudy days to supplement the photovoltaic system also installed on Palmyra.
“With a goal to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, SheerWind’s INVELOX was the only viable solution for the multiple restrictions including height, wind speeds, and of course bird populations. This solution works and helped bring the goal to reduce fossil fuel use a reality,” said The Nature Conservancy’s David Sellers, who is the driving force behind the design solution and details of the INVELOX installation.
Palmyra Atoll is located 1,000 miles south of Hawaii in the vast equatorial Pacific, and hosts spectacular coral reef and tropical island ecosystems, but is a challenge for humans to inhabit. There are no commercial flights to this remote outpost, which is co-owned and managed as a scientific research station and national wildlife refuge by The Nature Conservancy and The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Until the recent installation of wind and solar, Palmyra was run on diesel fuel generators. These installations reduced its dependence on fossil fuels by 95%.
“We are grateful for David Sellers and The Nature Conservancy’s commitment to installing the first commercial system in an extremely challenging location. We are pleased we were able to contribute to this important achievement and hope this is an example to be duplicated globally,” said Dr. Daryoush Allaei, founder and CTO of SheerWind.
SheerWind has developed a new-aged wind power generation system that produces more electrical energy efficiency at roughly 75% of the cost of traditional turbines. The technology is safe for humans and wildlife, requires less maintenance than conventional wind systems and produces more electricity per dollar invested than conventional systems. The funnel-driven system captures the wind and brings it to ground-level turbines and blades for safer, easier and cheaper operation and maintenance.
Filed Under: Construction, News, Projects
George Fleming says
“SheerWind-Invelox–Is the End Nigh for Another Ducted Turbine?” by Paul Gipe, Feb 23, 2017
The Nature Conservancy’s Device
The Nature Conservancy installed one of SheerWind’s ducted devices on Palmyra Atoll in a $1.2 million project that fortunately included solar photovoltaic panels. The atoll is 1,000 miles south of Hawaii and everything on the atoll has to be shipped in.
The Conservancy says they chose SheerWind’s device because of the company’s claims that it was bird safe. The atoll is a bird sanctuary.
Chad Livingston, the Conservancy’s Palmyra operations officer was carefully guarded in his response to my question whether the device is working or had ever worked. “After careful observation it is clear that this turbine did not impact the bird population; however, we question the turbine’s power production,” says Livingston. He then went on to say, “The wind turbine produces some electricity.”
When queried further, Livingston never clarified just what “some electricity” means. Is this just volts again? Is this a few kWh? We don’t know. The Nature Conservancy is not talking.
They did say that the Palmyra program has decided that wind is no longer the most cost-effective way to generate renewable electricity. Instead they will cut consumption further and add more solar panels. The Conservancy’s Livingston called the wind project a “valiant effort.”
No. More likely the project was doomed from the start and all the money, effort and embarrassment could have been avoided with a little more due diligence at the start.
Disclosure: I suggested on an electronic forum in August 2014 that heads should roll at the Nature Conservancy for the damaging hype they have fostered and for the donor funds they have squandered on the SheerWind-Invelox device.
We should assume that this device is not operating.
Fra Forst says
I guess the fact the unit is working for The Nature Conservancy is the best evidence that the system works even when a turbine is placed inside. while engineers and scientists can disagree on the validation of a new technology because it does not match what they know today, but once it is installed and working, I guess all arguments becomes useless.
Also, if we list what others have said, it is best to also list the testimonial on the SheerWind Web site by professors at City College of New York. These professors have co-authored three peer review journal papers that includes 2-year field data in addition to computer simulations. When Dr. Hansen wrote the opinion, there were no reported field data. Please note that if you review the web site, the technology is now licensed to Denmark, the same country Dr. Hansen is from.
George Fleming says
There are previous articles and comments about Invelox on the Windpower Engineering website. You can find them with the search engine. Another good source of information is this article:
“…Martin Hansen, a wind energy expert at the Technical University of Denmark, disagrees. He says INVELOX will draw in and speed up the wind as claimed, but when the turbine is placed inside the ductwork it will create such high pressure that little additional air will be drawn into the device, making it a poor alternative to conventional turbine designs…”