No, it’s not a Microsoft product - it’s a new idea for wind power in urban environments.
Dr. Farzad Safaei, a professor at University of Wollongong, is developing a new kind of wind turbine that he claims will be easy to manufacture, inexpensive to install, quiet to operate, and scalable. Unlike a traditional horizontal axis wind turbine (HAWT) or vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT), the PowerWINDow looks like [drumroll please] … a window ... with venetian blinds attached. But the “blinds” aren’t really blinds; they’re the blades of the turbine.
The blades are attached to tracks on either side. As the wind blows, the blades move down the front of the PowerWINDow and rotate up the back. (It’s similar to the rolling of a garage door, except that it rolls 360 degrees instead of up and down.) Generators are located on the sides.
Professor Safaei is still conducting initial tests on the device, so he doesn’t have efficiency data to report. His goal, however, is not to replace wind farms consisting of large HAWTs; instead, he wants to put wind turbines in urban environments, attached to buildings, and possibly mounted between buildings, as shown in this artist's rendition:
Image:University of Wollongong
According to Professor Safaei, “The modular design of PowerWindow is expected to reduce both capex (capital expenditure) and opex (operational expenditure) and also improve noise, reduce fatigue on the tower (due to reduction of wind shear effect) and make it more suitable for urban areas – but we have not verified all these as yet.”
Based on the responses to my vertical axis wind turbine article, I expect a lot of people telling me that this won’t be cost-effective. That remains to be seen, but I’ll remind the readers that many ideas once summarily dismissed by experts eventually came to fruition. Einstein laughed at quantum physics. Edison thought AC electricity had no future. PowerWINDows may be one of those ideas … or not. Only time (and data) will tell.