A new type of wind turbine harvests not only electricity from the wind, but clean water from the air, by condensing humidity from even the driest climes. One prototype turbine is apparently collecting 16.3 gallons of water an hour from the desert air over Abu Dhabi, according to the company that builds it.
Oil companies look for oil where they think it might be most abundant, so doesn’t it make sense to seek wind power in the places where the wind is most abundant? An MIT spin out called Altaeros Energies seems to think so. Not content to harvest wind energy from atop a static tower just a few hundred feet tall, Altaeros has demonstrated an aerostat wind turbine that can be lofted up 1,000 feet from a trailer, no tower necessary.
Among the many factors keeping wind power projects from getting their legs is the annoying and sometimes dangerous tendency for moving wind turbines to mimic aircraft on an air traffic controller's radar screen. The problem has led to the stalling of some wind projects and criticism of others, criticism that isn't helping the larger roll out of renewable energy resources.
As wind turbine designs grow ever larger, engineers need new facilities to test their mettle, measuring their energy-generation capacity and making sure they can withstand the windiest conditions.
A new rig for extreme turbine rotor blade tests is set to open this summer in Germany, built to assess a new generation of mega turbines.
A chunk of magnetite guards the office door at the Pea Ridge iron mine near Sullivan, Mo., a mascot of the mine's past and future. When Jim Kennedy bought the mine in 2001, he'd planned to restart production on a high-grade iron ore deposit. He didn't realize he was sitting on a mother lode of 600,000 metric tons of high-grade rare earth elements -- elements the U.S. is desperately hungry for. Four years ago, he almost threw away reams of documents describing Pea Ridge's deposit. "Nobody bothered to tell me about it," he said.
Future airborne wind turbines could spin with greater gusto in the faster winds found at high altitudes, and send power back to Earth via nanotube tether cables. Swarms of energy-harvesting kites, whirling blimps or balloons could stay aloft for a year, and could be reeled in during storms or for maintenance.
Last night, Google announced that it has agreed to invest heavily in a proposed $5 billion, 350-mile power transmission backbone that would provide infrastructure for future offshore wind projects along the mid-Atlantic coast. But even with the backing of one of the world's mightiest tech companies, various financial investment firms, and many important officials in government, the transmission line is going to be something of a technological trick.
The DOE released its 2009 Wind Technologies Market Report yesterday, and the results are a mixed bag of highs and lows for the U.S. Americans added 10 gigawatts of wind capacity last year, 40% more than in 2009. But alas, the U.S. is the world's wind power leader no more; China outpaced the U.S. in new wind capacity, stealing away a mantle America had owned for four years.