Wind energy is growing in popularity all over the United States. The amount of electricity generated each year by wind power continues to grow steadily. Today, more than 10 percent of electric power generated in the United States comes from wind power. Power industry experts predict that by 2050, one-third of the electric power in the United States may be generated by wind power. Although there still may be many challenges ahead, this fact could lead to a greener more sustainable future—especially with the alternative that startup Flower Turbines offers!
A Background on the Idea of Wind Generators
Not all wind power generators are alike. When wind generators were proposed as a solution to the energy shortages of the 1970s, they were hailed almost as a panacea—that is, the ‘one big thing’ that would change our energy future forever. Of course, windmills weren’t new. They already had been in use as a small-scale source of power for hundreds of years. What was new was the potential massive expansion of big wind electrical generation.
It was a situation of ‘one’ windmill on the property next door is just fine while having one thousand windmills next door is frightful. But if the United States was going to generate a significant amount of energy from wind, they needed lots of windmills and they needed them fast—even if there were some problems.
Flower Turbines Offers An Alternative
As Robert Bryce, Senior Research Fellow for the Manhattan Institute, points out in the accompanying video, large-scale power production with wind turbines takes a lot of land space: about 700 times as much space as hydraulic fracking does. And the turbines have to be tall, to take advantage of the stronger and more consistent wind at altitudes. Thus, the huge wind farms with thousands of turbines are a noisy eyesore. In addition, they are the largest single killer of raptors and bats on the planet at this time. Flower Turbines LLC, a startup company that is part of the inaugural Dreamit Urban Tech accelerator, aims to solve that. The company’s smaller tulip-shaped turbines can be seen by birds, so they are not a hazard to wildlife. They can be installed anywhere without the need for the tall towers, so they are less of a visual blight on the landscape. And Flower Turbines can be placed close together, so you get more wattage for every square foot of land they are placed on.
Flower Turbines CEO Daniel Farb shares, “The bold idea is that we can take the small wind turbine market and turn it into a mass production market like what Henry Ford did with the automobile.” Because Flower Turbines’ wind turbines are smaller and silent, they can be placed on top of buildings, turning homes and offices into source-point power generators. Farb adds that he is also a supporter of solar energy, but believes that wind should be part of the mix as well. He notes that geographic variation makes some areas of the country more suited to the wind, while other areas are more suited to solar. Then again, some are well-suited to both. Having a mix of renewable energy types to choose from allows homeowners, business owners and cities to plan their energy grids according to what best suits their needs.
Startups Contributing to a Bold Future
Dreamit is a top-10 ranked global accelerator. Dreamit has brought Flower Turbines, CityZenith, Lotik, Ecomedes, Knowify, Gifly, and Raxar together in their current incubator. Great things are expected from all of these companies. Ander Ackerman, managing director of Dreamit, believes that all of these companies have some relevance for the Tampa market. And he added that a few of them “like Flower Turbines, would like to have their first at-scale installation to be part of this 3 billion dollar renovation project in Tampa”. These projects are chosen for their promise to grow financially and their ability to address some of society’s most pressing urban issues, like transportation, housing, water, food, energy, construction and more.
In the effort to reduce carbon emissions in the future, wind energy will undoubtedly be part of the mix. Big wind has many negative downsides. Perhaps the key to the problem is to ‘think small.’ And Flower Turbines with its bold idea of small turbines aims to be part of that bold future.