MagLev wind turbines, the next generation of wind turbines is capable of generating power from wind speeds as low as 1.5 m/s and reported to operate in winds reaching 40 m/s. This large wind turbine from maglev industries will also increase generation capacity by 20% at the same time decreasing operational costs by 50% over the traditional wind turbine. Maglev also claims that this particular turbine will be operational for 500 years, a staggering claim.
The MagLev wind turbine was first unveiled at the Wind Power Asia exhibition in Beijing. The unique operating principle behind this design is through magnetic levitation. Magnetic levitation is supposedly an extremely efficient system for wind energy. The vertically oriented blades of the wind turbine are suspended in the air replacing any need for ball bearings. The turbine operates via “full-permanent” magnets. electromagnets eliminating the need for electricity to run the machine. These full-permanent magnets consist of neodymium magnets of the rare earth metals which lose no energy through friction. This combination of magnetic components and reduction of moving parts should reduce maintenance costs and increase the life of the turbine.
Maglev wind turbines have advantages and some claim disadvantages over conventional wind turbines. The first thing worth mentioning next to the wide range of operating wind speeds is the manufacturer claims that one MagLev could generate one gigawatt of power compared to the miniscule 5 megawatts of power that conventional turbines are capable of producing. One turbine could provide power for as many as 750,000 homes!
Critics dispute many of these claims, instead, believing that this vertical axis wind turbine has some serious design flaws. Even suggesting that it will perform far below the fore mentioned figures. The opposing experts believe that it has too many blades leaving the turbine to look “solid” to the wind as it speeds up in strong winds. Stators are also lacking in the design to direct the flow more effectively onto the blades. There are many other flaws that leave industry experts to wonder about this innovative concept and its true capacity but that is open to debate for the time being.
In Arizona MagLev Wind Turbine Technologies will be manufacturing the turbines. The company is claiming that is will be able to deliver clean green-power for less than one cent per kilowatt hour given this new technology, remarkably cheap. Here is the kicker though, just one massive turbine will cost an estimated $53 million to construct. In November of 2007 construction began on the world’s largest production site for maglev wind turbines in China. Zhongke Hengyuan Energy Technology has invested 400 million yuan into building the facility that is set to produce maglev wind turbines with capacities ranging from 400 to 5,000 Watts.