Gidzy on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 GenericWhen I first joined Environment 911, fellow writer Emily Heeb's article Scotland Providing Guidance to Wind Farm to Advocated Protection of Birds was provided to me as an example.
Her article reminded me of how promising wind energy is - but also of the massive numbers of birds killed by wind farms every year.
Although cats (domestic and feral) are considered the biggest threat to birds in Canada, the number of bird deaths caused by wind turbines increases exponentially when wind farms are erected. As Emily Heeb stated, "from 10,000 to 40,000 [birds are killed] a year in the UK."
Kevin Dooley on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 GenericWhen I first read the May 26th, 2014 Power Solutions press release, the statement, "The Liam F1 converts no less than 80% of the available energy from the wind into power," I was taken aback.
This is truly unheard of.
In a Forbes article I read a couple of years ago by Jeff McMahon titled Wind Power May Not Reduce Carbon Emissions As Expected: Argonne, the problem is wind doesn't continuously provide energy. When windmills are still, energy providers must turn fossil-fuel plants on.
Lauren Valentino et al. published a study in Environmental Science and Technology journal which concluded "Turning these large plants on and off is inefficient. A certain percentage of the energy goes into just heating up the boilers again."
What's more, Louise Lerner, an Argonne National Laboratory spokesperson, explained that "as you add more turbines [the carbon emissions are] not reduced in a linear way."
It's biomimicry at its best: the nautilus logarithmic spiral
Without noisy blades (that injures birds) and that fits on rooftops
Am I skeptical? To a point.
But I thiKevin Dooley on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Genericnk my IT guy is right: everything will need to become a hybrid, at some point.
Whether an 80% energy return is possible, I'm not sure. It might be possible - when the wind keeps blowing - but what happens when it stops? And can we store the wind energy?
However, we need to have green energy available in as safe a manner as possible. Eco systems will be (and are) affected by thousands of birds being killed from wind farms.
Furthermore, I predict land resources for food production will need to take priority, within the next few decades. I'm not sure we'll have all the available land we need for wind farms in the future.
With the rise in human populations worldwide, we'll need to maximize vertical (rooftop) real estate. I like the idea of these wind turbines (which are virtually silent) being installed atop high rise buildings, factories, and homes.
And this design isn't entirely new; it's been considered for our waterways as well. Up next, is a 2 minute video uploaded by Omar N. Abass in 2010 that introduces the horizontal axis logarithmic spiral wind and water turbine:
Horizontal Axis Logarithmic Spiral Fluid Turbine
By Omar N. Abass (2010) United States Patent Pending
After a few prototypes, it appears that The Archimedes (located in Rotterdam, the Netherlands) have created the Liam F1, an almost silent wind turbine that orients to automatically face the wind.
Field and wind tunnel studies revealed that at wind speeds of only 5 m/s (meters per second) can produce 1,500 kWh (kilowatt hours) of energy. In 2012, the average US home used 10,837 kWh of electricity.
So preliminary tests certainly look promising. Up next is a video from The Archimedes showing the three prototypes that were tested.
The Archimedes AWM Windmill
Note: There is no talking in this video (okay to mute music)
When is the Liam F1 Urban Wind Turbine available?
January 2015 is when the Liam F1 Urban Wind Turbine is expected to be ready for market at a cost of (approximately) $5,400 USD.
And it looks like a smaller version for lantern poles is also in the works. These smaller wind turbines are expected to produce about 25% the energy that the Liam F1 can.
What's incredibly brilliant about the smaller turbines sitting atop lantern poles is that both the turbine and solar panels power an LED (light emitting diode) light during the night. The end result is a lantern pole which is completely self-powering.
Installation of the Liam Wind Turbine F1
So for now, I look forward to 2015 when the Liam F1 will be in production and installed on a large scale. It would certainly be useful and cost efficient to power lighting at night with them for buildings, city streets, and highways.
If the energy conversion rate in urban areas proves to be even 50% (and not 80%), I still feel these silent wind turbines are a worthwhile investment that would likely spare thousands of birds from being killed every year and would make wise use of rooftop (or pole top) real estate.