Virginia-based Catch the Wind has an innovative solution for improving wind turbine efficiency— laser beams. The company’s fiber-optic laser system gives turbines up to 20 extra seconds to adjust to changes in gusts and wind direction. That may not sound like much, but Catch the Wind claims that its system can improve turbine output by 10 percent.
Catch the Wind’s LIDAR (light detecting and ranging) system is mounted on top of wind turbines. Three invisible laser beams pulse in front of the turbine and measure vertical and horizontal wind speeds as well as changes in direction. The system’s small size, minimal weight, and ruggedness make it ideal for permanent mounting.
The LIDAR model is currently being tested at the Wind Energy Institute of Canada, and Catch the Wind plans to have a commercial model available in 2010. I haven’t found any mention of the price tag, but my guess is that invisible laser beams don’t come cheap.
Photo Credit: Catch the Wind Inc.
Ariel Schwartz was formerly the editor of CleanTechnica and is a contributor at Fast Company, Inhabitat, Triple Pundit, SF Weekly, and NBC Bay Area Online. A graduate of Vassar College, she has previously worked in publishing, organic farming, documentary film, and newspaper journalism. Her interests include permaculture, hiking, skiing, music, relocalization, and cob (the building material). She currently resides in San Francisco, CA.