New Bladeless Turbines Causing Good Vibrations In Clean Energy World

Image: @VortexBladeless/Twitter

by Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer

When most people envision a wind turbine they picture a tall metal structure with spinning blades. Yet Madrid-based energy company Vortex is seeking to expand the perception of what turbines can look like. The startup has introduced a new turbine design that removes the blades entirely. These turbines are three meters high, and they generate electricity by vibrating in the wind. 

This design caught the eye of Norway’s state energy company, Equinor, which called Vortex one of the 10 most exciting startups in the energy sector.

Why This Matters: Wind power is crucial to helping the world meet its carbon-free energy needs yet its not without its downsides. Many conservations worry that traditional turbines could be harmful to migratory birds, who can fly into the blades, and some have concerns that wind turbines will be too loud, and disturb those who live near wind farms. What’s more, is that turbine blades aren’t yet recyclable and have been piling up in landfills. These new turbines in their current iteration can help people generate wind power at their homes and the hope is future designs can be used for larger-scale windfarms. 

Moreover, these turbines can provide additional energy in urban areas where traditional wind farms wouldn’t fit. Putting a small, windless turbine on top of a residential building, a streetlamp, or on the side of the highway could generate small amounts of electricity for residents nearby, much like a home solar panel. This small-scale form of sustainable energy production could be a great complement to the larger-scale projects already underway.


Turbines go Bladeless: Vortex isn’t the only company working on small-scale wind turbines. A company from Whitstable, Kent, Alpha 311, has created a small turbine from recycled plastic that can generate energy from the breeze created by passing cars — no wind required. Moreover, each turbine could generate as much electricity as 20 square meters of solar panels. 

Meanwhile, in Germany, startup SkySails has invented an automated kite tied to a generator that can capture wind energy from the sky at high altitudes. 

These innovations are already being tested. A 1-meter version of Alpha 311’s turbine will be installed at the O2 arena in London, which could allow the venue to generate its own energy. SkySail has partnered with German energy firm RWE to find place to fly the startup’s kites in the German countryside. 

It might take some getting used to wind turbines’ new look. Some online users on the forum Reddit have likened Vortex’s turbines to a giant vibrating sex toy, a “skybrator.” But these new turbines have inspired even more optimism about making a transition to clean energy. Good vibrations, indeed!

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