The team developed the idea of using solar blades on conventional wind turbines to answer critics who claim that wind turbines are only beneficial while the wind blows. The technology thus makes it possible to generate both wind energy and solar power at the same time.
The leader of the group, Dr Joe King, highlighted the benefits of the development especially in sunny countries like Italy, Spain and Morocco, even though the innovation would also be useful to a degree in the UK’s windy weather.
Despite their advancements, the development of the system has not been without its problems. The main issue the team faced had to do with the solar panels reflecting beams of sunlight into the immediate environment, which could possibly blind aircraft pilots or the people in the area.
The issue could also have resulted in concentration of solar rays into beams lethal enough to cause fires. The solution to this problem was to ‘tint’ the solar panels so that the sun beams would not be reflected.
Now, what remains is for the team to decide where the prototype solar wind turbine would be installed. After considering the poor amount of sunlight received in the UK, the team is looking elsewhere with Ireland touted to be the probable destination, as, according to Dr Kind, “it is close by, has strong winds, wonderful summers” and his family also live there.
The aptly named “Heat Waver” is set to be installed sometime during the summer. However, there are still a lot more tests to run before the final installation. Still, the team is hoping to revolutionize the approach to renewable energy with such an innovative idea.