BREEZE; Artsy Turbines

By Renee Umsted

Wind turbines are often seen as ugly. They are big, bulky and obtrusive, and their purpose is limited to generating clean energy. However, there are some turbines that don’t exactly fit this description–they’re closer to art installations than wind farms.

In Tunisia, TYER Wind has designed wind turbines that mimic the movement of a hummingbird, the only bird that can hover and fly backward. These turbines are fitted with wings–not blades–that flap to convert the wind’s energy into electricity. They are both environmentally friendly and beautiful, especially when viewed against the backdrop of a sunset.

V-AIR produces several wind turbines, including the HoYi, a 1-meter-tall turbine. The smallest of the company’s turbines, the HoYi is perfect for streetlights or boats but is strong enough to last through hurricanes. In El Paso, Texas, artist Vicki Scuri designed a project to show the potential for wind energy in the state. Partnering with two other businesses, V-AIR installed wind turbines on top of towers near the airport.

Above the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, there are 18 wind turbines modeled to resemble DNA strands. While they do not generate the electricity they were originally supposed to, they have come to be a visible signal of the building’s green design, as well as a recognizable landmark.

The Quiet Revolution wind turbines are designed, developed and manufactured in the UK. As stated in the name, the tips of the blades are made to reduce noise. They are also efficient, as they can harness wind blowing in any direction and are spatially compact, able to be placed near or on top of buildings. Visually, the Quiet Revolution turbines are interesting, with thin, curved blades that add to the overall sculptural quality of the devices.

New World Wind created the Wind Tree, a wind turbine shaped and colored like a tree. After the Fukushima meltdown in 2011, inventor Jérôme Michaud-Larivière started considering safer alternative energy sources. Noticing trees in a garden, Michaud-Larivière wondered if it would be possible to harness the energy of the shaking leaves, and the idea of the Wind Tree with its Aeroleaf was born. Like the Quiet Revolution turbines, they are quiet and can be set up near structures such as buildings.

Still being developed, Vortex Bladeless wind turbines have no blades at all, making them noiseless. They generate electricity by oscillating, moving back and forth in the wind. Made of lightweight materials fitted over a base, they do not require additional raw supplies or a deep foundation. Vortex Bladeless products are sleek and white, simulating an artistic piece rather than a mechanical wonder.

Wind turbines should harvest energy from the breeze, because the world needs to move toward renewable sources of energy. But wind turbines can also be visually beautiful, and even forms of art.

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