Gallery: Scientists Develop Solar-Powered Wind Turbine for Ultimate Ene...

 

Why settle for one form of renewable energy when you can produce power with two? That’s exactly what scientists from the University of Liverpool have done by upgrading an everyday wind turbine with a new set of spinning solar blades. The team, led by Dr. Joe King, came up with the innovative solution to stymie critics who say wind turbines are “only useful when the wind is blowing” — their design doubles the functionality of traditional turbines by incorporating photovoltaic technology.

Dr. King said, “While we are no strangers to windy weather here in the UK, it can be intermittent in other regions. Solar panels may only be useful here during our ten days of summer or an occasional heatwave, but in countries such as Morocco, Italy and Spain they could make a real difference.”

However the team has faced problems. Early computer simulations found that the turbine mounted solar panels would cause blinding beams of light to shoot out across the surrounding area. There was a real concern that the turbines could potentially blind aircraft pilots as well as anyone living in the vicinity. Not just that, but on a particularly hot day the turbines would generate ‘lethal’ solar rays that could set buildings on fire if concentrated.

“The last thing we want is for our turbines to cause plane crashes and fires, so we’ve devised a ‘tinted’ solar panel that doesn’t reflect sun beams. Our early prototype looked like a massive disco ball when it is was operational, but our solution now prevents that.”

The team is now deciding where to install their prototype solar wind turbine. “Due to the poor amount of sunlight in the UK, we’re definitely looking abroad,” Dr. King said. “Personally I believe an ideal place would be Ireland. It’s close by, has strong winds, wonderful summers, plus my family live there so I can go visit!” Expect the solar wind turbine, dubbed the “Heat Waver”, to be set for a summer installation in a few months. “We still have several tests to run,” Dr. King said, “but we are confident we can transform the world’s renewable energy needs. Just think what our turbines could do in countries like Australia.”

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10 Comments

  1. Nina Doyle April 24, 2013 at 8:31 am

    I would love to see these installed throughout Florida – I volunteer my house as a test site!

  2. bthinker bthinker April 3, 2013 at 11:54 pm

    Since April fools is over you should probly take down it’s articles :) , just from the Feed though. Still have them sortable by ‘april fools’, with 1 feed article about April fooling left up linking it. I vote the apple data center, cause that’s an obvious but hilarious falsity.

  3. Dara Molloy April 2, 2013 at 7:45 am

    We have the ideal site for those prototype wind turbines … the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland. We are a locally owned Energy Cooperative and we will work with the developers to make it happen.

  4. SmartSolar April 4, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    It is amazing how like-minded technologists come with similar solutions! We at SmartSolar developed a wind turbine/solar PV combination and are proud to report that after consistently applying the hit & miss method we have no lethal solar ray problems. However, we did face other issues: since we concentrate the solar beams a high temperature was created on the tube on top of the system. This tube also doubles as a bird landing zone so we had to find a solution to avoid frying our feathered friends.

    The solution was to send cold water through the tube. And coincidentally this also increased the yield of the solar PV system! It is amazing how a cow catches a hare (sorry folks, this is Double Dutch).

    It would be interesting to meet Dr. King to discuss the merits of how our designs will save the world. Ireland would be a great location, it is the only place in the world where I like the draft Guinness.

    We were, by the way, so impressed with our ingenious wind/solar solution that we entered it in the General Electric ECOmagination competition. Have a peek at http://tinyurl.com/smartwind and if you like it: VOTE FOR US PLEASE!

  5. greenenergy April 3, 2011 at 3:25 am

    I think it would make more sense to install stationary solar panels in the huge areas available around existing windmills. This has two advantages (a) the blade design of the wind millas can be optimised for maximum efficiency and (b) the solar panels would be completely stationary making them more effective. It would also cost a lot less

  6. seamusdubh April 2, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    While this might be a joke. There is a company that is already doing this, Bluenergy Solarwind.
    http://www.bluenergyusa.com/

  7. ultipost April 2, 2011 at 1:57 am

    Please evaluate another wind/solar initiative:

    http://www.earthtechling.com/2011/03/ge-ecomagination-contenders-join-forces/

    Click through to the ECOmagination Challenge entries.

  8. johnpaul2012 April 1, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    April Fools!!!

  9. pauldodo April 1, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    Joe King- Wasn’t he the Riddler?

  10. tabirao2004 April 1, 2011 at 10:31 am

    You can try it here in the Philippines!! :D

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