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% of electric power generated in the United States comes from wind power.
Power industry experts predict that by 2050, one-third of power in the United States may be generated by wind power. This could lead to a greener more sustainable future. But there are still many challenges ahead.
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, the ‘one big thing’ that would change our energy future forever. Of course, windmills weren’t new, they have 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.
“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.”
It was a situation of ‘one’ windmill on the property next door being just fine. While one thousand windmills next door is frightful. But if the United States was going to generate a significant amount of energy from wind, they need lots of windmills and they needed them fast, even if there were some problems.
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 windfarms with thousands of turbines are a noisy eye-sore. In addition, they are the largest single killer of raptors and bats on the planet at this time.
Flower Turbine, a start-up company that is part of the inaugural Dreamit Urban Tech accelerator, aims to solve that. Their 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 sq. ft. of land they are placed on.
Daniel Farb, the CEO for Flower Turbines said that, “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 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 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 home owners, business owners, and cities, to plan their energy grids according to what best suits their needs.
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, Dreamit, believes that all of these companies have some relevance for the Tampa market. And he added that a few of them, “like Flower Turbine, 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.’ Flower Turbines aim to be part of that bold future.