British designers are developing a new type of offshore wind turbine that rotates on its axis, mimicking the spiral of a sycamore seed, and that stretches nearly 900 feet (275 meters) from tip to tip.
The so-called Aerogenerator has two enormous arms that extend from the base of the structure in a V-formation, each equipped with sails along their length that act like aerofoils to generate lift and cause the structure to turn at about three revolutions per minute. Designed by the engineering firm Wind Power, and backed by a consortium of academic and business organizations, the design would generate enough electricity to power 5,000 to 10,000 homes, more than twice as much as the most powerful existing wind turbine designs. The developers hope the design is ready for use by 2013.
The proposal joins others in an international race to build a 10-megawatt offshore wind turbine, including a proposal by U.S.-based Clipper Marine to build turbines rising nearly 600 feet above the North Sea.