A Housing Alternative
The major part of a solution for this will obviously entail a greater future emphasis on the construction of multifamily dwellings. Why not, then, give far more consideration to an ultimately beneficial approach to stemming housing sprawl, global warming, and the resulting killer-drought: the construction of condominiums over offices in high-rise buildings adjacent to greenhouses?
In such structures, we should note, we would also have the ideal location for the positioning of wind energy conversion devices: at the apex of the corners of these tall buildings. In particular, these buildings could use carbon-fiber-reinforced vanes supported by peripheral bracing to form vertical-axis wind assemblies. These assemblies could be suspended along the channeled corners of tall buildings. This scheme would be superior to the large and costly three-bladed, horizontal-axis wind machines now toyed with by the electric utility industry in several ways:
- With tall buildings, the high cost of a tower structure would be virtually eliminated.
- The building's walls would raise the velocity of the wind that they concentrated and directed toward these corner-located assemblies by more than a factor of two (being conservative), which means that the force of this wind would be raised by more than a factor of eight.
- This building attached approach would be converting the wind to a usable energy form within inches of where this energy could be marketed, thus eliminating the need to employ expensive (and inefficient) electrical transmission and distribution systems (and the utilities needed to erect and maintain them).
- The utility favored wind assemblies require complex instrumentation and machinery to keep them aimed into the wind; building attached assemblies would not.
- This tall building approach would also offer a practical and economical means for storing wind energy (primarily as compressed air within the buildings' hollow support columns, secondarily as liquefied air), something that is still a considerable problem with the electric utility approach.
- Further, on most calm, windless days, in most areas of the country, the conditions to collect solar radiant energy are excellent; therefore, attaching wind systems to buildings that are also fully (and cost effectively) collecting solar energy would greatly reduce the energy storage capacity required for such buildings (something would be coming in on virtually every day).
- Development of this tall building approach could result in systems sufficiently tall (four to six times taller than the utility-type devices) as to reach up into the really strong winds aloft. This approach would also produce structures tall enough to avoid being overshadowed in most urban locations.
- While attaching vertical axis wind assemblies to tall buildings would not necessarily hurt their general appearance, any large scale development of the utility-sponsored design would result in the widespread visual pollution of some large portion of our countryside.
- High-rise builders are now sometimes finding it necessary to notch or otherwise encumber the corners of their tall buildings so as to dampen winds accelerated by the buildings' walls-- an accomplishment that could be much more beneficially achieved by instead attaching, at the corners, wind blocking assemblies that rotate and do work as they retard the wind.
- Conventional wind energy systems (and for that matter, conventional solar energy systems) are currently being installed very slowly, because they are not cost competitive with extant fossil fuel power plants. SolarWind Buildings would be cost competitive with any other energy technology!
- This tall building approach would further encourage people to forgo much of their car travel (and petroleum consumption) for a life in these tall energy collecting structures, within a greenbelt walk or an elevator, bicycle, or trolley ride from their jobs, schools and fresh vegetables.
- Building-corner wind-assemblies would need many sections of pipe for bracing. If these exposed bracing struts were metallic, these wind-assemblies would be far less prone to being damaged by the lightning strikes which are really starting to eat into the durability of conventional stand-alone lighter all-fiberglass-composite blades.
- Where the strong winds blow, when the wind blows forcefully, it blows with gusts. Trying to convert raggedy wind directly into regulated, transmission-line-quality 60-cycles-per-second A/C electrical power (the conventional approach) lets a great deal of this wind energy slip away. With a practical energy storage methodology (a SolarWind building) very much more of the raw energy in gusty wind can first be dumped into storage and then regulated upon its release--with most of this release being activated, of course, long after strong winds have abated into zephyrs.
- Tall-building wind-rotors would need ZERO fast-disappearing heavy rare-earth minerals. Further, they would annually kill a very low percentage of the bats, birds, and butterflies which are now being destroyed by conventional lift-type (sky-slicing) blades, and
- Most importantly, an individual SolarWind Building should be able to sustain the lives of your loved ones, indefinitely. And, expanded SolarWind Building development could reverse the mega-drought brought on by global warming.