“We are confident we can build everything up to ocean liners
and in fifty years time people will look back at boats of the
20th Century and they’ll say “where are the wings”?”
– Dr Robert Dane, CEO, Solar Sailor
Imagine a boat powered by the sun. Unlike the wind, which comes and goes with unpredictable ferocity, the sun makes a fairly easily scheduled appearance most days. Add wind power as a concentrated burst of energy when the sun doesn’t necessarily shine, and you’ve got a luxury ride. It simultaneously looks like a subway train and a transformer: it isn’t the lofty elegance of an old galleon, but it makes a fashion statement nonetheless!
The Sun Sailor has won numerous award for its intriguing design. It simply makes sense to marry the sun and sailing, and takes place under some of the least obstructed skies on earth. And there’s some big name support. The leader of the company is an ex-prime minister of Australia, and recently Solar Sailor was awarded a contract with the US navy developing unmanned vehicles.
Visit the Solar Sailor site here
Too Much Wind?
It seems that utilities in Denmark have stumbled upon a problem. On windy days, the wind turbines they use to generate 20% of the country’s power needs are intermittently producing TOO much energy, reducing power costs to $0. Yup, that’s zero. So power company Dong Energy (from Denmark) and Project Better Place (located in California) are teaming up with Renault and Nissan to build a fleet of electric cars with lithium ion batteries that can be recharged during periods when the power grid is carrying too much energy. Then, this national fleet will get infrastructure, as Denmark plans to roll out a nationwide charging station initiative. Nice! To top things off, in looking for ways to “spend” the extra power, Denmark has also gotten cozier with some of its neighbors, selling inexpensive power to those such as Norway whose own energy needs are greater at certain times. Now that’s international relations as it should be.
What I want to know is: if Nissan and Renault are already going to build this fleet of purely-electric cars for Denmark and a similar program in Israel, why don’t they release them state-side as well? Since the death of the EV1 in America, the only electric car we’ve had is the new plug-in option on the Toyota Prius. Here’s to hoping they make a few with steering wheels on the left side.
Speaking of steering wheels, have you heard about the new car from MDI that runs on air? AIR. It has a 80s VW meets PT Cruiser kind of body, but inside seems pretty nice, and features… a steering wheel in the center of the car, so it can be driven anywhere in the world. Why did it take someone so long to think of this? Really. Right now the car is only being tested in India, but with a promise of $3 fillups (that’s for the TANK, not a gallon) and 180 miles between each one, a lightweight fiberglass frame, and considering you get the car and a home air compressor for less than $20,000, I’m pretty certain it won’t be long before people want one worldwide.
Here are full instructions for building your turbine
This guy builds a nice wind rotor for home power generation. He claims to get 1000 Watts Average in 20MPH Wind. Either way, the design is attractive, scalable, and doesn’t look like it will scare the neighbors too much. Check it out!
NOTE: since this was posted, the listed page has been removed. Here are two more links to low-cost vertically constructed turbines:
and a smaller scale project to whet your appetite:
EcoBridge Design Profile
Another fine design example from Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill (see their “energy-positive” design here). This circle in the lake serves two purposes: to create an area of calm water, known as breakwater, that can be enjoyed by tourists and enthusiasts, adding aesthetic value to the city. Additionally, the ring supports wind turbines that generate power for the city using the particular weather there to the city’s advantage. All the while providing a place to stroll out for a great lake-front view. This is a nice application of a city coming together to think on an integrated level about space usage. With proper focus, making a change in even one area of the green spectrum can be amazingly far-reaching.