Beth Buczynski

MIT Developing Floating Wind Turbines That Produce Power Even When There's No Wind

by , 04/29/13

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Critics of wind power keep coming back to the same old complaint: what happens when there’s no wind? A new design from researchers at MIT could finally offer a solution to this renewable energy conundrum. Engineers have conceived of an offshore wind turbine anchored by hollow concrete spheres that could also turn seawater into electricity. The turbine would allow offshore wind farm managers to store excess energy for a time when there’s no wind.

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The design would use massive concrete orbs (think: the diameter of the dome on the U.S. Capitol building) to anchor floating wind turbines to the ocean floor. When it’s particularly windy and the turbines produce more power than is needed, some of the energy could be diverted to a pump that would remove the water from the hollow sphere. Then, if there comes a time when power produced by the turbines is insufficient, water would be allowed to flow back into the sphere through a turbine attached to a generator, and the resulting electricity would be sent back to shore.

“One such 25-meter sphere in 400-meter- could store up to 6 megawatt-hours of power, the MIT researchers have calculated; that means that 1,000 such spheres could supply as much power as a nuclear plant for several hours—enough to make them a reliable source of power,” reports David Chandler for PhysOrg.

According to the researchers, the trick is finding the correct concrete wall thickness to withstand the hydrostatic pressure while also providing enough ballast mass – this will depend on the strength of the concrete used. The concrete could incorporate significant amounts of fly ash from coal-fired power plants, and the spheres could double as artificial coral reefs.

+ MIT

Via PhysOrg

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2 Comments

  1. Iloveit April 26, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    I love the concept. You don’t even really need a wind turbine, you can setup the tanks as batteries that double as coral reefs and pump the extra electric that is already generated by the power companies to empty these tanks and during power outages or times of higher needs these tanks can be accessed for their stored energy. It’s brilliant.

  2. dano8057 April 26, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    WHY are we re-inventing the wheel? Does anyone research anymore?
    Research this and you will find that it has already been designed, many, many years ago… by our Government.

    Research William Heronemus, who also served as the superintendent of ship construction for the U.S. Navy. Research Windships.

    Another waste of money… its already here, just have to get government to stop taking money from the Big Oil Companies, thus keeping us under their control…

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