Wind Energy Beyond Wind Turbines

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“Our project takes clues from the way the wind caresses a field of wheat, or reeds in a marsh; our hair on a gusty afternoon”. With these words, the team that presented the “Windstalk concept” at the 2010 Land Art Generator Initiative competition described the aesthetics of a project that gave them the second place mention from the jury.

The “Windstalk concept” consists of 1203 stalks made of carbon fiber reinforced resin poles that generate kinetic energy when moved by the wind. Each stalk is anchored to the ground using concrete bases that contain a chamber with a generator. A series of piezoelectric ceramic discs surrounded by electrodes are located in each hollow pole, and cables connect even and odd electrodes separately. When wind blows, the movement generated in the poles forces the compression of the ceramic discs, hence generating a current through the electrodes. The generator placed at the base of each pole converts the kinetic energy into electricity.

Since the wind does not always blow, the team has designed two chambers located under the area covered by the poles that play the role of batteries. These chambers are used to store the energy produced and a series of pumps move water from the lower chamber to the upper one. When wind stops blowing, water flows down from the upper chamber, turning the pumps into generators. The owners of the concept estimate that the overall output of the project is the same of a wind turbine array.

The beauty of the project is completed by the LED lights placed at the top of every pole (stalks are 55 meters high). The lights glow and dim depending on wind strength, and poles look dark when wind does not blow. Vegetation grows wild among the bases of the stalks, watered by the scarce rain that flows down the bases and concentrates within these green spaces.

The “Windstalk concept” was presented by New York based Atelier DNA, a studio started in 2008 with the aim of reaching equilibrium between humans and the world we live in, and designed for Masdar city, the clean technology cluster in Abu Dhabi.

The team was formed by Darío Núñez Ameni and Thomas Siegl, creators and designers of the concept from Atelier DNA ; Ian Lipsky, ecological and renewable energy consultant from eDesign Dynamics; Radhi Majmudar, responsible for the structure and engineering from ISSE Innovative Structural and Specialty Engineering; and Gabrielle Jesiolowski, who provided the narrative and poetics.

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