The longer the blade, the more energy a wind turbine can generate. But make the blades too long, and too much wind can causes serious damage to the entire turbine. But what if wind turbine blades could adjust their length depending on the conditions?
The idea of retractable blade wind turbines has been creating a buzz in the clean tech industry recently. Rajnish Sharma of the University of Auckland in New Zealand calculated that such a turbine could generate twice as much power over a year as an ordinary one, and be safe to run at high wind speeds.
By building a small 1.5-kilowatt prototype turbine, Sharma found that the telescopic blade turbine meet or beat energy generation levels set by traditional turbines in both light and heavy wind conditions.
With these "go-go-Gadget" arms, Sharma estimates that areas once thought unsuitable for wind energy development because of too much, or not enough wind, could be utilized.
Of course, something as complex as telescopic turbine blades won't be cheap to construct, but with the extra energy generating capabilities, Sharma calculates they would be cost-effective even if they were four times as expensive as ordinary ones.
Image Credit: Flickr - samuel mann