Teaching Wind Turbines Altruism to Rev-up Wind Farms

“Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” So declares Spock, Star Trek’s Vulcan hero, as he sacrifices himself to save the Starship Enterprise and its crew in the 1982 film Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. Today Stanford University researchers presented the clearest proof to date that self-sacrifice can also benefit wind farms. In their demonstration at an Alberta wind farm, one turbine sacrifices a fifth of its generating potential to enable better performance by neighboring turbines, boosting the group’s collective output.

And while Spock’s heroics necessitated a major plot twist to revive his character for the next Star Trek sequel, teaching turbines to behave altruistically requires just a small (but intelligent) tweak to their control systems. What they learn is how to share the wind. Continue reading “Teaching Wind Turbines Altruism to Rev-up Wind Farms”

Wind Power That Floats

Blue H Group.Wind farms continue to inspire considerable opposition from neighbors and bird lovers. None more so than the proposal by Boston-based Cape Wind to erect 130 wind turbines in Nantucket Sound in what would be the first offshore wind farm in U.S. waters. Ted Kennedy, senior senator from Massachusetts, has led the charge against the proposal, claiming this industrial intrusion would mar the view from his family’s seaside compound and, by extension, harm Cape Cod’s leading industry: tourism.  

To form your own view of Cape Wind’s visual impact, check out the computer-generated graphics prepared by the developer to simulate the wind farm’s appearance from the surrounding shores 5-13 miles away. 

Now, into these contested seas sails a new developer with a proposal designed to please all: Blue H Technologies, which has staked out a parcel of seabed for a wind farm 23-miles off Nantucket, well beyond the sight of sling-sipping vacationers. And the technological solution enabling Blue H to site a wind farm in water 167 feet deep? Floating wind turbines.

Blue H’s proposal struck some partisans of the Cape Wind debate as a fraud. See this rant from Cape Cod Today, for example, suggesting the Blue H is an underhanded scheme by Ted Kennedy and other politicos to protect their waterfront viewscapes.

However, as my report headlining MIT TechReview.com today shows, Blue H is for real. The Dutch firm is well on the way to demonstrating a novel application for conventional oil and gas platform technology, and it has competitors just as intent on proving the economic and energy potential of deepwater wind.

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