Wind Turbine Blades With Telescopic Arms, Catching The Breeze

Wind turbines with retractable arms?

It’s simple, really: in general, large turbines harvest more energy from the wind than small ones, but that changes if the wind is too strong. Then long blades become a disadvantage as they exert big stresses on the turbine’s mechanism, resulting in possible damages.

Wind Turbines With Telescopic Arms?

What about a wind turbine with telescopic arms? Rajnish Sharma of the University of Auckland in New Zealand calculated that such a turbine could generate twice as much power over a year as an ordinary one, and be safe to run at high wind speeds. To test the idea, he built a prototype based on a small 1.5-kilowatt turbine. In strong winds it generated the same power as a standard turbine, while in gentler conditions it easily beat its rival.

From The New Scientist:

The extendable blades cost more to make, though Sharma calculates they would be cost-effective even if they were four times as expensive as ordinary ones. The blades could be deployed in areas once thought unsuitable for wind power, Sharma adds. And existing turbines could be retrofitted with the blades, though Sharma has not tested the idea on industrial-scale turbines.

Struggling To Prevent Bird Deaths At Altamont Pass Wind Farm

Since I drive past California’s iconic Altamont Pass wind farm often, I’m excited to hear about this new development.

For years, environmentalists have raised alarms about the slaughter of red-tailed hawks, golden eagles and other raptors that have fallen victim to the whirling blades of thousands of wind turbines along the Altamont Wind Resource Area. So this past summer, it got the beginnings of a major upgrade that promises to drastically reduce the number of bird deaths.

Nearly 2,000 of the 4,000 wind turbines in operation, many of which are nearly 30 years old, will be replaced over the next four years with about 100 huge state-of-the-art turbines that, at 430 feet, stand taller than the tallest coast redwood trees. For every new turbine installed, 23 of the old ones will be removed — a dramatic drop expected to significantly reduce the number of birds killed each year.

From The San Jose Mercury News:

Shawn Smallwood, a renowned expert on birds and wind turbines, estimated that about 2,000 raptors are killed each year, along with as many as 8,000 other birds and bats. Young birds learning to fly are particularly vulnerable.

“Any way you look at the mortality data, there’s been a tremendous impact on birds,” said biologist Doug Bell, manager of the East Bay Regional Park District’s wildlife program. “I’ve found birds sliced in half. You see all kinds of blunt force trauma.”

Reducing Bird Mortality Rate By 80 Percent

So it’s great news that the Altamont Pass area will be repowered with taller mega-turbines that some say could reduce the bird mortality rate by 80 percent. At the same time, 6.5 miles of overhead electrical lines and about eight miles of road will be removed, allowing the land to return to a more natural state. The project also is creating union construction jobs: About 135 people have been hired.

This is an important milestone, but retractable wind turbine blades could be even more momentous. Let’s hope they become a reality.

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Photo Credit: socialpyramid


Rosemary H.
Rosemary H.4 years ago

I know where there are lots of wind turbines and they are mostly switched off, or not turning in calm weather. These things are not green for a lot of reasons. Why waste money in altering them instead of investing it in genuine green energy from alternative sources - there are several.

How many people have heard of thorium, or thought about wave power?

LM Sunshine
James Merit5 years ago

Yes, another step forward, may it happen,, thank you for info and sharing

Lindy E.
Belinda E5 years ago

@John S: the modern wind turbines reduce bird deaths because (a) there are far fewer of them of them for the birds to fly into, (b), they have only three very skinny blades instead of eight wide ones, and (c) the blades rotate far more slowly; they rotate, rather than whirling.

@A Green Road (love the name!): I hadn't heard about rooftop horizontal wind turbines, but I have heard of a backyard one I would like to install if I knew what I was doing. As for solar energy, it's making great strides: we're getting close to the point where every roof can be covered with high-efficiency solar-power shingles - no loss of land at all for residential use!

Charlene Tinkham
Charlene Tinkham5 years ago

I hope this becomes a reality...

Julie Evans
Julie Evans6 years ago

Technology is improving daily...someday they will find something to fix the matter and I'm sure they're working on a solution as we speak.

Jo Asprec
Jo Asprec6 years ago

I hope this will be safer for birds. Energy generated by wind seems promising.

janine k.
janine k6 years ago

Anything that whistles alerts birds. Duh.

Duane B.
.6 years ago

When we think of wind turbines today we should think of the evolution of the telephone over the years. From the time of Alexander Bell to today, the telephone has evolved dramatically. Wind turbines are still in their second or third generation of mass production. They will get better. They will get more efficient. They will find ways to better protect birds, bats, and other wildlife. It just takes time and demand.

Green Road A.
Eric Straatsma6 years ago

Everything has a cost and consequence.. Solar covers ground, thus killing plants. Wind power has blades that move, which affects some birds. There are designs that are bird kill resistant, and this technique of bigger and fewer towers is one way to reduce the problem.

Another strategy is to plan in advance. Study where the birds fly, as they fly in wind and uplift corridors. The wind towers can be built to avoid those flight paths, and thus reduce bird deaths. This takes some time and increases costs however.

Meanwhile, new horizontal top of building wind power plant designs and actual working models have been developed that use no blades at all, and they move slowly enough that birds can see them, thus eliminating bird deaths entirely.

Roger B.
Roger Bird6 years ago

Love is never off topic: