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Turbine technologies: Winds of change

From offshore to on your roof, wind power could see some big changes over the coming years. Starting at the larger end of things, a new floating wind turbine could potentially cut costs-per-Megawatt by around half come the 2020s, according to a study commissioned by the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI). The continued development of large-scale wind power in the UK is dependent on costs for new projects being reduced to below £100/MWh, so running in at £85 per unit makes this design a contender.

According to Business Green, the tested model is representative of where the offshore wind industry is looking to innovate:

"There has been a particular focus on developing floating turbines that can both slash the costs associated with turbine foundations and help developers access sites further offshore that enjoy stronger and more reliable winds.”

A Nautilus shell -style turbine is also making big claims for what it might do for residential and urban prospects in wind power. The Dutch inventors behind the colourful design say they can generate half a household’s electricity needs at wind speeds of 5m/second, and almost noiselessly - ideal for those built-up environments.

As our study of domestic wind turbines found, however, it’s all about ensuring that those wind speeds can be achieved. Getting the direction of the turbine right is another key factor, but this is where this new design claims to excel; its shape meaning it moves to optimal position to make the most of the wind speeds available at any given time.

At the micro-micro end of the wind market is a new, portable device for charging mobile devices. Trinity, as it is known, uses a vertical axis with three blades, charging a battery that in turn can be used to power up those flagging phones and tablets. It can then be folded down, aluminium stand and all, to stick in a bag. The company behind it has overshot its target on crowd-funding website Kickstarter - so this may be a device seen out and about sooner rather than later.

Gary Hartley is Energy Saving Trust's expert blogger. He has extensive experience researching and writing on a number of topics, with particular expertise in sustainable energy, policy, literature and sport. As well as providing regular blog content, Gary has also been published in numerous magazines and journals.

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