Testing Begins on Renzo Piano’s Dragonfly Wind Turbine Blade

International, Sustainability
Monday, October 28, 2013
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‘Dragonfly’ Wind Turbine (Photo: Renzo Piano Building Workshop)

‘Dragonfly’ Wind Turbine (Photo: Renzo Piano Building Workshop)

You might know Renzo Piano as the architect behind many of the world’s leading museums, but get ready to meet Renzo Piano, wind-turbine expert. Testing has commenced on Renzo Piano’s small-scale wind-turbine blade at the Molinetto Test Field near Pisa, Italy. Piano’s turbine blade resembles a dragonfly’s wing and incorporates elements from the insect that promote stability in flight in order to allow the turbine to tolerate gale-force winds.

‘Dragonfly’ Wind Turbine (Photo: Renzo Piano Building Workshop)

‘Dragonfly’ Wind Turbine (Photo: Renzo Piano Building Workshop)

Piano’s slender, two-blade turbine differs from the customary three-blade scheme and has proven to operate successfully in low-intensity wind. To avoid spinning too quickly during storms, larger turbines typically use particular blades that stall at too-high speeds, or computerized systems that regulate the blade angles according to wind speed. Such systems are too costly to use with small-scale turbines, as they do not generate enough power to justify the price. The dragonfly turbine, which benefits from tough, lightweight composite resources, takes advantage of even the slightest breeze—it utilizes winds of only 6.5-feet-per-second for rather endless power. It can also be used effectively even at lower elevations than its larger counterparts.

Designed with transparent plexiglass panels that emphasize the internal carbon structure, the turbine has minimal visual impact. While not in motion, the blades align with the mast to blend in with the environment. Held to the ground by cables, the tower is just 65 feet tall and 13 inches in diameter.

The dragonfly has generated over 1200 KWh of energy over the course of a couple months. The prototype will continue to be tested for a few more months, followed by mass production as part of a groundbreaking approach that aims for advanced performance on all renewable technologies.

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