Finally, it seems the main shortfall of wind power – the lack of power when there is no wind – may have been solved by scientists at MIT. Their engineers have designed a new wind turbine which would be anchored in the sea by hollow spheres which also produce energy from the seawater. This would make it possible for surplus energy to be stored for less windy times.
The design’s huge spherical anchors would be made of concrete and would lie on the ocean floor while the wind turbines float. This structure would make it possible to use excess energy during very windy seasons to pump water out of the spheres and in times of low energy generation during less windy times, electrical energy would be produced by letting the seawater back into the spheres through turbines connected to generators.
According to David Chandler of PhysOrg, the spheres would measure about 25 meters, would be employed in seawater up to 400 meters deep and would be capable of storing a maximum of 6 MWh of electricity. Thus, from MIT’s calculations, 1000 spheres of the same kind could produce as much energy as a nuclear plant, making for a dependable source of energy.
The main hurdle for this new technology is finding a balance between the concrete thickness for protection against the sea’s hydrostatic press and how much ballast mass can be provided, depending on how strong that particular concrete type is. Coal-powered power plants could provide large quantities of fly ash for the concrete, with the spheres also acting as man-made coral reefs.