Popular Mechanics just held its yearly Breakthrough Conference, and one of the winners was the Wind Belt, an invention we've not seen before. The Wind Belt is a new approach to wind energy production and an innovative approach that could radically change the cost curve downwards, especially within the developing world and in off-grid environments.
Shawn built a kind of bridge out of taut kite fabric. The fabric vibrates in the wind, and a magnet, attached to the fabric, creates electricity at one end of the device. He says that, in a 10 mph wind, the generator is up to 30 times more efficient than the best rotary turbines.
These are some impressive claims. That much more efficient? But, at what cost? Well, ridiculously cheap. Just some fabric, a magnet and some copper coils does it. Frayne guesses that, for the developing world, the Windbelt could cost as little as a few dollars. It's cleaner, cheaper, and easier to fix than any other method of generating power. That is, as long as the wind keeps blowing.
Pretty sweet. I think there are going to be a lot of applications for this technology. The video gives a good demonstration as to how it works.