These long-white pylons seen wobbling back and forth in the wind are bladeless wind turbines that generate electricity without depending on giant blades.
Instead of the traditional turbines whose blades kill countless birds cannot be recycled and are extremely expensive to maintain, the new design is for a bladeless wind turbine. They were designed by Madrid based Spanish renewable energy start-up ‘Vortex’.
The bladeless turbines work by harnessing the power of the wind to create a ‘wobbling’ motion which in turn generates electricity in a process known as Vortex-Induced Vibration (VIV).
The three-metre (10-foot) tall pylon only produces 100 kilowatts of energy which is enough for a small electrical device.
David Yanez, the co-founder of Vortex Bladeless, told the local news outlet Telecinco: “At the moment the device is small hence the name ‘Vortex Nano’ and currently produces enough energy to power a phone”
But Yanez and his team hope to scale up the project and build a pylon tall enough to produce a whole megawatt of energy.
One megawatt would be enough to power a family home for about a month and a half which would be a huge step up from the current 100-kilowatt output.
Yanez added: “The energy that the device can produce grows rapidly as its heigh is increased”
Although the technology is in its “infancy” according to Yale Climate Connections it has the potential to revolutionise the sector if enough investment is poured into it.
One big advantage of the bladeless design is to overcome the threat that traditional turbines pose to wildlife.
Research by Miguel Hernández University (UMH) found that: “In Spain alone collision with wind turbines cause 1000s of deaths per year of several different bird species.”
They added: “One of the most affected groups is the vulture with more than 1,000 deaths per year due to collisions”
Research in the United States has drawn similar conclusions, the American Bird Conservancy estimates that in the US alone over 350,000 birds are killed per year by the blades of wind turbines.
They added that getting an exact number is impossible but it is a clear concern and as renewable energy use is expanded more birds are likely to be killed by turbines.
The European Union has set a target of increasing the use of renewable energy to 32 per cent by 2030 whilst the Biden administration is pushing ahead with plans to invest billions of dollars into green energy.
This bladeless turbine has the potential to contribute to meeting these ambitious renewable energy targets whilst not damaging wild bird populations.
The second issue that the bladeless turbines hope to overcome is the fact that traditional turbine blades cannot be recycled and cost a small fortune to maintain.
The bloodless pylon in contrast is made of carbon fibre which according to the company can last up to 25 years before it needs replacing.
Furthermore, the pylon does not require regular lubrication and its parts don’t get worn down as quickly as traditional wind turbines making it far cheaper to maintain them.
Yanez said the technology has different characteristics which can help to fill the gaps in the market where traditional wind farms might not be appropriate.
The company claims that because the pylons are cheaper to install and to maintain they can produce electricity at a fraction of the cost that is incurred by traditional wind farms.
Yanez believes that with the correct investor, the product could hit the commercial market within the next 18 months.