The Gigawatt Maglev Wind Turbine (concept)

imageMahesh at Inhabitat has put together a very interesting article on a Gigawatt Magnetic Levitation Vertical Axis Wind Turbine (try saying that five times fast).

Renewable energy produced from the wind has garnered much attention and support in recent years but is often criticized for its low output and lack of reliability. But now a super power wind turbine has come along that may be just what the renewable energy industry needs. The MagLev wind turbine, which was first unveiled at the Wind Power Asia exhibition in Beijing, is expected take wind power technology to the next level with magnetic levitation.

Most of us are familiar with magnetic levitation in the context of super-fast trains. These trains can run super-fast, super-quiet, and super-smooth because they’re floating on a magnetic field cushion. This reduces noise and friction, increasing speed and decreasing wear. The down side to these marvels is the large amount of electricity that they suck down to power the electro- magnets that make the train "float" and propel it along the track.

With this wind turbine, instead of accomplishing magnetic levitation via electromagnets, powerful "rare earth" permanent magnets are used (just like in "normal" wind turbines). This provides all the benefits of magnetic levitation without requiring electricity to do so.

According to the article, construction began on the world’s largest production site for maglev wind turbines in central China on November 5, 2007. Building a single giant maglev wind turbine would reduce construction and maintenance costs and require much less land than hundreds of conventional turbines.

The estimated cost of building this colossal structure is $53 million, but that asks the question: how much would it cost to build a maglev wind turbine on a residential scale?

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