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Wind Energy wind-it_xl

Published on July 6th, 2009 | by Timothy B. Hurst

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New Design Integrates Wind Turbines Into Transmission Towers

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July 6th, 2009 by  

Concept incorporates vertical-axis wind turbines directly into transmission towers already dotting the landscape.

Three Frenchmen, architects Nic­ola Delon and Julien Choppin, along with engineer Raphaël Ménard, believe they have stumbled upon a scalable design that would not only allow wind turbines to work in virtually any landscape, they believe it avoids some of the aesthetic hurdles normally facing large wind farms. The Wind-it concept would fuse vertical-axis wind turbines directly into new or existing electricity transmission infrastructure.

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The team estimates that if a third of France’s high-voltage electricity towers were renovated with turbines, they could rival the power generation of two nuclear reactors, or about 5 percent of the country’s energy needs.

Making its public debut in May 2007 as part of an exhibition about energy and design sponsored by the national utility Électricité de France, the Wind-it concept more recently garnered attention when featured in Metropolis Mag’s 2009 Next Generation contest.

“There are half a million pylons already in France,” engineer Ménard says. “If you look to other countries, there are tens of millions. Even if the power is tiny, as soon as you integrate it like that, it creates big, big energy.”

While praising it, technical experts who judged the design expressed some concerns. “There’s a slight naïveté about wind power’s potential in the design, “says Chris Garvin, a partner with the environmental consultancy Terrapin Bright Green, “but it’s compelling nonetheless.”

Electricity towers aren’t built to accommodate the vibration and stress produced by wind turbines, so existing structures would likely require a magnitude of structural reinforcement likely to make retrofitting of existing towers cost-prohibitive.

via Metropolis Mag

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About the Author

is the founder of ecopolitology and the executive editor at LiveOAK Media, a media network about the politics of energy and the environment, green business, cleantech, and green living. When not reading, writing, thinking or talking about environmental politics with anyone who will listen, Tim spends his time skiing in Colorado's high country, hiking with his dog, and getting dirty in his vegetable garden.



  • http://GlobalPatriot.com Global Patriot

    Delighted to see creativity put in play when it comes to generating alternative energy, but we must pay as much (or more) attention to the amount of electricity being wasted in this country – it’s the only way we can achieve long term sustainability.

  • http://GlobalPatriot.com Global Patriot

    Delighted to see creativity put in play when it comes to generating alternative energy, but we must pay as much (or more) attention to the amount of electricity being wasted in this country – it’s the only way we can achieve long term sustainability.

  • http://GlobalPatriot.com Global Patriot

    Delighted to see creativity put in play when it comes to generating alternative energy, but we must pay as much (or more) attention to the amount of electricity being wasted in this country – it’s the only way we can achieve long term sustainability.

  • dhartzell

    Existing towers have an existing capacity for current loads. They don’t have the additional strength required for wind drag from turbines. Dumb idea.

  • dhartzell

    Existing towers have an existing capacity for current loads. They don’t have the additional strength required for wind drag from turbines. Dumb idea.

  • chrisp

    I agree uncle B… waste waste waste. Good post. Just another band aid to keep everyone nice and cool in their McMansions.

  • chrisp

    I agree uncle B… waste waste waste. Good post. Just another band aid to keep everyone nice and cool in their McMansions.

  • chrisp

    I agree uncle B… waste waste waste. Good post. Just another band aid to keep everyone nice and cool in their McMansions.

  • Power Systems Engineer

    My sister (who works as an architect) sent me the magazine article about this idea a month or two ago. Like I explained to her, I wouldn’t invest a single penny in this technology. Even if someone was somehow able to make the manufacturing/construction/installation of these towers economically feasible, the control/operations requirements for the towers’ lifetimes would still be more than enough to make this technology not work. The power quality and reliability would suffer horribly, without expensive controls and isolation equipment to meet the system standards. Voltage, frequency and harmonics problems would occur all-over.

    I would bet on everyone having a flying car before any of these towers being installed.

    And I’m not being a pessimist (like the previous comment!), just a realist.

  • Power Systems Engineer

    My sister (who works as an architect) sent me the magazine article about this idea a month or two ago. Like I explained to her, I wouldn’t invest a single penny in this technology. Even if someone was somehow able to make the manufacturing/construction/installation of these towers economically feasible, the control/operations requirements for the towers’ lifetimes would still be more than enough to make this technology not work. The power quality and reliability would suffer horribly, without expensive controls and isolation equipment to meet the system standards. Voltage, frequency and harmonics problems would occur all-over.

    I would bet on everyone having a flying car before any of these towers being installed.

    And I’m not being a pessimist (like the previous comment!), just a realist.

  • Uncle B

    How we use power has to change as much as how we generate it! Local fission plants are looking better each day, dangers be damned. For inexplicable reasons, we humans seem to need to use more power in most wasteful fashion every day. Developing super-insulated materials for solar oriented homes, passively heated and cooled as necessary, with full exploitation of underground heat exchange, proven technologies, yet not used – McMansions still sell! Very much more power-saving refrigeration for homes is available, technically, but great stainless-steel cabineted behemoths with ice-makers in the doors sell, not eco-fridges of normal proportion? We are so sick! The “American Dream” as supported by the strongest advertising and construction lobbies in the world is wrong, destroys our own environment, we know it, yet, we persist in it, even to the point of trying to adapt our transmission towers to provide for it! The folly of 21st Century America and its downfall will be marked by environmental disasters beyond your wildest dreams, and economic disaster already upon us! The ‘Yuan” from China, now used in Asian trade, will soon be used in international trade, replacing the U.S.Dollar and all the “fringe benefits” we reamed out of that envious position! The next big market “Crunch” will not be covered by huge loans from China! We have already been put on notice, and will have to devalue our money at astounding rate as we persist in the most wasteful and environmentally unfriendly way of life on the face of the earth – windmill in transmission towers a moot point, we are damned by stupidity and intransigence to a sad fate!

  • Uncle B

    How we use power has to change as much as how we generate it! Local fission plants are looking better each day, dangers be damned. For inexplicable reasons, we humans seem to need to use more power in most wasteful fashion every day. Developing super-insulated materials for solar oriented homes, passively heated and cooled as necessary, with full exploitation of underground heat exchange, proven technologies, yet not used – McMansions still sell! Very much more power-saving refrigeration for homes is available, technically, but great stainless-steel cabineted behemoths with ice-makers in the doors sell, not eco-fridges of normal proportion? We are so sick! The “American Dream” as supported by the strongest advertising and construction lobbies in the world is wrong, destroys our own environment, we know it, yet, we persist in it, even to the point of trying to adapt our transmission towers to provide for it! The folly of 21st Century America and its downfall will be marked by environmental disasters beyond your wildest dreams, and economic disaster already upon us! The ‘Yuan” from China, now used in Asian trade, will soon be used in international trade, replacing the U.S.Dollar and all the “fringe benefits” we reamed out of that envious position! The next big market “Crunch” will not be covered by huge loans from China! We have already been put on notice, and will have to devalue our money at astounding rate as we persist in the most wasteful and environmentally unfriendly way of life on the face of the earth – windmill in transmission towers a moot point, we are damned by stupidity and intransigence to a sad fate!

  • Uncle B

    How we use power has to change as much as how we generate it! Local fission plants are looking better each day, dangers be damned. For inexplicable reasons, we humans seem to need to use more power in most wasteful fashion every day. Developing super-insulated materials for solar oriented homes, passively heated and cooled as necessary, with full exploitation of underground heat exchange, proven technologies, yet not used – McMansions still sell! Very much more power-saving refrigeration for homes is available, technically, but great stainless-steel cabineted behemoths with ice-makers in the doors sell, not eco-fridges of normal proportion? We are so sick! The “American Dream” as supported by the strongest advertising and construction lobbies in the world is wrong, destroys our own environment, we know it, yet, we persist in it, even to the point of trying to adapt our transmission towers to provide for it! The folly of 21st Century America and its downfall will be marked by environmental disasters beyond your wildest dreams, and economic disaster already upon us! The ‘Yuan” from China, now used in Asian trade, will soon be used in international trade, replacing the U.S.Dollar and all the “fringe benefits” we reamed out of that envious position! The next big market “Crunch” will not be covered by huge loans from China! We have already been put on notice, and will have to devalue our money at astounding rate as we persist in the most wasteful and environmentally unfriendly way of life on the face of the earth – windmill in transmission towers a moot point, we are damned by stupidity and intransigence to a sad fate!

  • http://dopeace.ning.com Ted N.

    Wow! It’s great to see this type of creative thinking. Beautiful!

  • http://dopeace.ning.com Ted N.

    Wow! It’s great to see this type of creative thinking. Beautiful!

  • http://dopeace.ning.com Ted N.

    Wow! It’s great to see this type of creative thinking. Beautiful!

  • http://ecopolitology.org Tim Hurst

    Thanks, Russ. It seems to me, the most viable application for this design could be to help with the problem of line loss. If you have these VAWTs integrated into the towers, they could help deliver the same amount (or more) of electricity that was produced by the generators (whatever the source) in the first place.

  • http://ecopolitology.org Tim Hurst

    Thanks, Russ. It seems to me, the most viable application for this design could be to help with the problem of line loss. If you have these VAWTs integrated into the towers, they could help deliver the same amount (or more) of electricity that was produced by the generators (whatever the source) in the first place.

  • http://ecopolitology.org Tim Hurst

    Thanks, Russ. It seems to me, the most viable application for this design could be to help with the problem of line loss. If you have these VAWTs integrated into the towers, they could help deliver the same amount (or more) of electricity that was produced by the generators (whatever the source) in the first place.

  • Unbiased Product Reviews

    If anything it seems like this invention could help with the problem of transmission line loss.

  • Unbiased Product Reviews

    If anything it seems like this invention could help with the problem of transmission line loss.

  • solarweasel

    Give us a prototype. As it currently appears, this idea is nothing more than a novelty designed to appeal to ignorant politicians.

  • solarweasel

    Give us a prototype. As it currently appears, this idea is nothing more than a novelty designed to appeal to ignorant politicians.

  • russ

    I had contact with Rafael Menard (one of the three) on another blog – they are not suggesting use of old towers – this is not an easy retrofit as you point out.

    It would not be anything like a standard tall tower in output (lower with more obstructions and less swept area) but by integrating them into structures that would be built anyway – maybe the design has some promise.

    They claim to have a new design for the rotors to make the VAWT more productive than they have been in the past.

  • russ

    I had contact with Rafael Menard (one of the three) on another blog – they are not suggesting use of old towers – this is not an easy retrofit as you point out.

    It would not be anything like a standard tall tower in output (lower with more obstructions and less swept area) but by integrating them into structures that would be built anyway – maybe the design has some promise.

    They claim to have a new design for the rotors to make the VAWT more productive than they have been in the past.

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