Published on August 24th, 2015 | by Rogier van Rooij17
This Wind Turbine Expected To Attract ~1.5 Million Visitors Per Year
August 24th, 2015 by Rogier van Rooij
Update: Note tha the Ewicon efficiency is extraordinarily low, less than Savonius VAWTs, and highly prone to water problems. Only two have ever been built, one non-functioning one on a business near the university that invented them and one on the university site itself. Basic Summary: The EWICON consumes more water than any electricity gained is worth in any real-world situation. More info here.
The planned construction of a new wind turbine isn’t that special nowadays, since hundreds of them are erected globally each month. However, one that was recently proposed to be built in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, is absolutely worthy of a mention, since it will be nothing like any other wind turbine that has been erected before.
What I am talking about is a project that is named the Dutch Windwheel. This giant structure will reach 174 meters in height and exists of one ring inside another one. While the outer ring will be partly under water and houses 40 rotating cabins, the inner ring is able to produce wind power. In the meantime, this inner ring houses not just a panorama restaurant, but also a sky lobby, a hotel, apartments, and potentially other commercial activities. Developers expect it to be visited by 1.5 million people annually, thanks to, in particular, the 40 rotating cabins. Once in one of these, one will be given both an aerial view of the largest harbor of Europe and, since the building is partly built in a river, a view below the water surface.
But let’s be clear here: A big part of the rationale for such a wind turbine is not simply the electricity generated or cost per kWh. It is the visual and “wow” factor, and how that shapes a city and makes it a tourist attraction and more enjoyable place to live.
The most interesting part of the project to me is the way it generates renewable electricity. The technique it uses is called EWICON (Electrostatic WInd energy CONverter) and quite complex. In short, what happens is that, in the center of the inner loop, out of horizontally placed tubes, positively charged water particles will be sprayed into the air. The wind will then blow those particles against the electric field of the beam, which creates a negative charge and therefore something even better: electricity. The University of Delft made this great video explaining the method, so definitely watch it if you want to learn more about EWICON:
Producing power like a conventional wind turbine, but without any moving parts, without making any noise or moving shadows, is potentially a great development. However, specific data about the costs or efficiencies are lacking, which makes one think it isn’t particularly “cost effective.” This makes it questionable whether this technique can be a viable way of generating renewable electricity without the need to transform it into a tourist attraction.
The project is very ambitious, which comes with uncertainty regarding the likelihood of the “Windwheel” being built. Still, I am pretty optimistic about the chances of the structure getting to construction, because the parties that are involved (primarily the companies BLOC, DoepelStrijkers, and Meysters) seem to be very serious, and committed to getting their dream realized. Even in the best-case scenario, the Dutch Windwheel will not be completed before 2020. But once it is, it will be more than a must-see for every eco-tourist coming to the Netherlands. It could also be a symbolic milestone in our adoption of clean energy.