First, here is what I had considered, without question, the coolest use of wind power:
That’s right: OMFG! Yes: amongst others, SkySails (“Turn wind into profit!”, sadly, is their slogan – come on, people) are in the business of wind-powered supertankers. If you consider that shipping post I put up the other day, it’s not such a bad idea. Consider (again) the traffic out there:
How much could we stand to benefit from needing less oil for each of those (not just in terms Consumption, but terms Pollution and terms Environmental Catastrophe)?* It is, for me, a perfect example of intelligent designs for optimising the use of renewable fuels. Principally, besides how freaking awesome a kite-powered supertanker would be, this is because it employs Wind for a purpose for which Oil has, by and large, a huge advantage: transit. We cannot just plug sunlight, or wind, or (yet) garbage etc. into our cars. An application that can effectively substitute or supplement conventional fossil-fuel-powered engines with renewable-fuel power should be applauded, loudly. The engineers responsible should get all the girls. Or boys. Or both, but I really do draw the line there.
Today, I saw a competitor for this genius (it’s cool: I’m not the judge or anything): airborne wind-turbines. I.e., plugging wind into your house. From the makes-me-green-with-envy blog Inhabitat:
OMFG2! (that was really very sad, I am aware).
San Diego based Sky WindPower is developing a kite-like 1,100 pound Flying Electric Generator (FEG) capable of producing power for as little as two cents per kilowatt hour and flying between 15,000 and 30,000 feet. Four rotors at the points of an H-shaped frame provide the necessary lift to keep the platform floating in the air like a kite. Electricity generated by the spinning rotors is transmitted to the ground through aluminum cables tethered to the frame.
Score! One can only imagine what the Don’t Windmill-up Our Pretty View crowd will think of this:
Which is another idea: the laddermill, a series of wing-mounted turbines.
Speaking which, you might like to consider – if you are interested in such things – this approach to making wind turbines more approachable: put an observation deck in them.
Personally I quite like them, though I’m disinclined to go near one (I also don’t like going more than 4 stories up in any given building, or standing too close to them – I avoided as much as possible the front of the York Minster. I don’t care how long it’s been there: I just don’t trust buildings).
Just imagine, though, what might be achieved with even a little of the money governments pump into nuclear. I would remind you, meanwhile, that an earthquake won’t cause a wind turbine to leak radioactive material.
*Caveat: I am aware of the flipside to this, that lowering the economic and (potential) environtal costs could lead to a greater-still proliferation in sea-borne shipping, which could itself do more harm than good. On this point I would call myself agnostic, I guess. I don’t know whether or not it would, and I don’t know whether I think it would be a good thing or a bad thing.