There are several reasons for this substantial difference. First, the Wind Catcher is tallerâ”approaching the height of the Eiffel Tower — which exposes the rotor blades to higher wind speeds. Second, smaller blades perform better. [Ole Heggheim, CEO of Wind Catching Systems] explains that traditional turbines are 120 feet long and usually max out at a certain wind speed. By comparison, the Wind Catcher’s blades are 50 feet long and can perform more rotations per minute, therefore generating more energy. And because the blades are smaller, the whole system is easier to manufacture, build, and maintain. Heggheim says it has a design lifespan of 50 years, which is twice as much as traditional wind turbines, and when some parts need to be replaced (or during annual inspections), an integrated elevator system will offer easy maintenance. “If you have one single turbine and you need to change the blade, you have to stop the whole operation,” says Ronny Karlsen, the company’s CFO. “We have 126 individual turbines, so if we need to change the blade, we can stop one turbine.”
When the system reaches the end of its life, much of it can be recycled. After the first significant wave of wind power in the 1990s, many traditional wind turbines have reached their design lifespan; blades the size of a Boeing 747 wing are piling up in landfills. Not only are the Wind Catcher blades smaller, but they’re also made of aluminum, which, unlike the fiberglass used for larger turbines, is entirely recyclable. “You melt it down and produce new ones,” says Heggheim. A prototype will likely be built in the North Sea (in Norway or the U.K.). After that, the company is looking at California and Japan.
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