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New Design Integrates Wind Turbines Into Transmission Towers

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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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.

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