According to a new study by the U.S. Energy Department (Tinyurl.com/ EnergyDepartmentWindReport), wind power could provide more than a third of the nation’s electricity in a few decades, while posting a net savings in energy costs. Undersecretary for Technology and Energy Lynn Orr, Ph.D., states, “With continued commitment, wind can be the cheapest, cleanest option in all 50 states by 2050.”
Wind power has tripled since 2000, and now supplies nearly 5 percent of the country’s electric power. The report says that it could dramatically reduce air pollution and go a long way toward meeting the country’s goals of slowing climate change.
Meanwhile, Spanish engineers have invented the Vortex Bladeless wind turbine, a hollow straw that sticks up 40 feet from the ground and vibrates when the wind passes through it. Instead of using a propeller, the Vortex takes advantage of an aerodynamic effect called vorticity. The result is a turbine that’s 50 percent less expensive than a bladed model and is nearly silent. It’s not as efficient as conventional turbines, but more of them can be placed in the same amount of space, for a net gain of 40 percent in efficiency. Plus, with no gears or moving parts, maintenance is much easier and they are safer for bats and birds.