Dutch embrace new tulip-shaped wind turbine design

With its fertile soil, the Netherlands is a popular agricultural exporter, and the tulip is one of the country’s most recognisable exports.

Almost four centuries ago, the Dutch were at the centre of a so-called ‘tulip mania’, in which contract prices for tulips soared as part of a speculative bubble, making these beautiful flowers incredibly expensive in 1636-37. The mania died down eventually and order was restored, but tulips remain a vibrant, colourful symbol of Dutch culture even today.

The future of energy transition is that there is no one source of energy. So we have to use multiple sources. The idea is to combine efficiency with art…

– Roy Osinga, Regional Director EU speaking to Euronews Green

Now, Flower Turbines, an American technology firm, proposes a radical new design for wind turbines, using the tulip as a template. Could there be a new wind-power-led tulip mania in the offing?

Out with the old, in with the new

Traditional wind turbines are recognised by their distinctively large turbines, especially those which are installed in offshore wind farms. However, their immense size comes at a cost. Each year, several thousand birds and bats are killed by turbines, through direct collisions with them or through barotrauma (internal injuries due to rapid pressure changes caused by the turbine blades).

Some have suggested painting wind turbine blades in distinctive colours to minimise such incidents, but Flower Turbines has an entirely new approach: by taking one of the Netherland’s most celebrated and recognisable exports, the tulip, Israeli businessman Dr Daniel Farb has designed a wind turbine with vertical blades shaped like petals.

The turbine’s design has led to some dubbing it a form of eco-art, helping countries produce green wind power using turbines which are no longer deemed eyesores, but rather striking pieces of art in their own right. These turbines are already popping up in the Netherlands and Germany, and this new technology could be seeded across the rest of the world in the coming months.

Quieter, more efficient design

One of the benefits of the Flower Turbines design is that the turbines are much quieter than conventional models. The official Flower Turbine website claims the turbines will make “no more noise than the wind”, suggesting that their turbines are not only more pleasant to look at, but they won’t impose a grating whirring sound as they work.

By positioning them together as a group, the turbines are estimated to be 20-50 per cent more efficient. This is all achieved despite them being smaller than the titan-sized turbines we’re used to. By being installed on the roof of a house, a small cluster of tulip turbines could reportedly generate a large amount the energy requirements for that entire house.

As we can see, making progress in designing the technologies of the future can often require us to take a look at nature itself for inspiration. While this year’s crop of tulips will enter their prime and ultimately wilt, tulip turbines are here to stay, and send a strong signal that the future of wind power turbine design is more artistic than before.

Share With:
Rate This Article