The Shard architect Renzo Piano has partnered with Italy’s Enel Green Power to design a new ultra lightweight wind turbine that has a smaller visual impact on the landscape than conventional wind turbines.
Upon inauguration of Qatari-owned The Shard, locals complained that Renzo Piano’s soaring 1,016 foot skyscraper completely dominated the London Bridge Quarter in which it was built.
But that is no indicator that the world-renowned Genoese architect is unable or unwilling to produce designs with a more modest footprint.
Working in collaboration with Enel, a leading green energy provider, Piano designed the Dragonfly Invisible Wind Turbine – a compact turbine with just two-blades that are better suited to widespread implementation than conventional turbines with three blades.
Just 66 feet tall, the tower’s blades have a 52 foot diameter rotational span and are able to harvest even the lightest winds due to the lightweight carbon and polycarbonate materials out of which they are constructed. At the same time, it is important that the blades don’t over-function in high speed winds.
The turbine is currently undergoing testing at the Molinetto test field in Italy’s Pisa province, home to the ENEL research center, and may be mass produced once viability studies are complete for widespread distribution throughout Italy.
Sites in the Middle East and North Africa have great wind energy potential – particularly along the Mediterranean coast, but conventional wind turbines are so large and costly that it’s very unlikely that more than a few clean energy enthusiasts would employ them en masse.
But the smaller turbines, which are virtually “invisible” when not in use since the two blades – inlaid with transparent plexiglass panels – align vertically with the tower, have a lot more potential for residential and small-scale commercial applications.
In a recent release, Enel Green Power describes their motivation for commissioning Renzo Piano to design the Dragonfly Invisible Turbine.
“The new mini-wind-turbine blade is part of Enel Green Power’s strategy for innovation that targets improving the performance of all the renewable technologies, making them more available and less prone to problems linked to intermittency.”