Can Beautiful Turbines Help Critics Embrace Wind Energy?
From our friends at Fast Company, "bridging the fuzzy border between design and business."
NL Architects's proposal for foliage-inspired turbines challenges notions that wind farms are rank eyesores.
With knock-down-drag-out fights erupting over the aesthetics of proposed wind farms from Cape Cod to Canada, it stands to reason that the turbines themselves could use a makeover. Leave it to NL Architects -- the Dutch design brains behind this ingenious flipper bridge and this insane rotating amphitheater -- to dream up something terribly clever: wind turbines that could moonlight in an art gallery.
Power Flowers are the result of what the architects describe as "an ongoing investigation into the sculptural potential of wind energy." The question, they say, is this: "Can we turn windmills into objects of desire?"
Their idea is to cluster egg-beater turbines on a lanky fixture to evoke delicate buds on a tree. Far from the eerily isolated wind farms of California and beyond, the trees would be "planted" smack dab in the middle of cities -- in parks, along boulevards, and around homes. Think of them as the new family oak for an environmentally minded age.
The turbines NL Architects have in mind here are a special brand called Eddy that harvest wind whipping in every direction and can be mounted pretty much anywhere (compared with propeller blade turbines, which generally require significant armature and lots of open space).
Each tree features either three or 12 turbines that can generate 13,680 kilowatt hours and 55,000 kilowatt hours, respectively, of power a year. That's not much compared with wind farms like that of the San Gorgonio Pass, in California, which has historically delivered more than 700 million kilowatt hours a year. But if cities start sprinkling trees here and there, they'll be giving their energy portfolios a nice little blast of renewable power -- presumably without raising the hackles of the local NIMBY crowd.
NL Architects's Kamiel Klaasse tells us in an email that they're in talks with the Amsterdam government about implementing Power Flowers (even though the trees are just a concept at this point). "This turns out to be not exactly a rapid process," he says, "so hopefully other interested people will contact us." Hint, hint!
[Images courtesy of NL Architects]
By Suzanne Labarre in Fast Company