Image: Patrick Finnegan via flickr
Boulder Wind Power has come up with a turbine design that it says can produce electricity at or below $0.04 per kilowatt-hour, allowing it to compete directly with fossil fuel-based power. What sets the design apart is that it does not require the scarce metal dysprosium—the Achilles heel of turbines, as well as of hybrid and electric vehicles—and that it also uses less steel.The design uses not only less structural steel, but eliminates the use of costly laminated electrical steel, according to BrighterEnergy. While the need for dysprosium is eliminated in the turbine design, it is not clear which rare earths are used.
Mining corporation Molycorp, Inc. has announced plans to invest in Boulder Wind Power, a move that will position Molycorp to be the "preferred provider" of rare earth magnets and alloys for Boulder Wind.
"By effectively solving the dysprosium supply problem for the wind turbine industry, this technology removes a major hurdle to the expansion of permanent magnet generator wind turbines across global markets," said Mark A. Smith, Molycorp's CEO.
But the move has others outside the company excited, too. Dan Arvizu, Director of the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, said, "It promises to strengthen the ability of the U.S. to manufacture wind turbines domestically and to compete more effectively in global markets."
More on wind power and on rare earth metals:
Goodbye Fossil Fuel Dependence, Hello Rare Earth Dependence!
China Tightens Grasp on Rare Earth Metals Vital for Green Technologies
Boulder's Gigantic Wind Turbines: Are Those People!?
How Community-Owned Wind Power is Tackling Climate Change (Video)