Instead of harvesting the power of the wind at the hub of the turbine, a new design features a direct-drive generator powered by the outside rim of the turbine, and has potential for large-scale offshore wind power installations, says the inventor.
The Keuka Rim Drive turbine looks like a cross between a bicycle wheel and a pinwheel, and the company behind it believes that it can transform the offshore industry with its unique design. Keuka recently completed and launched the first U.S. manufactured Offshore Wind Farm Vessel, a 100KW prototype, and are currently working on their 12.5MW model, scheduled for completion by January 2013.
Herbert Williams, of Keuka Energy, believes his machines can solve a few of the issues that wind power currently faces, namely scalability and costs. According to Williams,
"They [conventional wind turbines] are too small and too expensive to make a difference. Why not build a 100MW or 600MW wind machine that can eliminate a coal-fired power plant? There is a lot of energy and room in the open ocean for big machines. It’s where the future of wind is." - Recharge
All things being equal, the Keuka Rim Drive Turbine is said to be 30% cheaper over the long haul, as that accounts for the long-term costs associated with the gearboxes on traditional turbines, and transportation is much easier, as the lightweight fiberglass blades can be transported in a small fraction of the space required by other turbine blades. The turbines are also said to be much quicker to set up, taking less than a week from start to finish.