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Future innovations

New system concepts

Technology development in the largest unit sizes of conventional wind turbines has been particularly stimulated by the emerging offshore market, and many of the most innovative wind energy systems proposed in recent years target the offshore market.  System concepts, such as floating turbines that are intrinsically for offshore, are reviewed in Chapter 5: Offshore.  Systems involving innovations that may operate from land or offshore are now reviewed.  Some of these systems may be the way of the future; some will undoubtedly disappear from the scene.  At the very least, they illustrate the huge stimulus for creative engineering, which has arisen from the challenges in harnessing renewable energy sources and from the establishment of wind energy technology in the power industry.

Electrostatic generator

An electrostatic generator is being investigated in the High Voltage Laboratory at TU Delft.  It is presently at the laboratory feasibility stage, being tested at milliwatt scale.  The considerable attraction is to have a system with few mechanical parts.  It is seen as being potentially suitable for buildings, due to minimal noise and vibration, or for offshore, on account of simplicity and the potential to be highly reliable.

In the EWICON design, charged droplets are released, and transported and dispersed by the wind to create DC current in collector wires.  One key issue with this system is the level of power consumption used in charging the droplets.  Up-scaling to useful power capacities from micro laboratory size is thought to benefit performance but has yet to be demonstrated.

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