Global Issues

Sailing towards cheap, bountiful windpower: Hassine Labaied at TEDGlobal 2012

Posted by: Helen Walters

Hassine Labaied

Hassine Labaied is here to talk wind. Specifically, wind power. “Wind is clean, free, perpetually renewable and widely distributed across the globe,” he says. “Yet the current main wind technology, the turbine, is still based on a windmill system.” And existing turbines are terribly inefficient: 70% of wind power is simply lost, while the devices are also expensive and unreliable.

Labaied’s solution is inspired by sails, not blades. He describes what he’s calling “Zero-Blade” technology. He shows video of a “dancing dish,” designed to convert the kinetic energy of wind to electricity.

He has some stats to share. By removing some of the most expensive components of a wind turbine, it is possible to slash costs by 50%. The system can store energy to be deployed at a later stage via hydraulic accumulators, solving a big problem with existing systems. And it’s efficient, able to capture twice as much kinetic energy as a conventional wind turbine. “The aerodynamic design and the motion enables it to literally swallow a big part of the wind,” he says lyrically.

Yes, there are still many questions to be answered, he acknowledges. But tests are promising and suggest that the system might be twice as efficient as the original system. “On top of that, it is bird-friendly, almost silent, and it offers a good visual integration into the landscape.”

Labaied concludes his short talk optimistically and poetically: “Some of you might think it’s too good to be true. but the history of human evolution has taught us that nothing is out of reach. The overwhelming majority of innovation came from places that are least expected,” he says. “Our dream is to take this innovation to the next level and to contribute to the global efforts to make this world a better and a cleaner place for the next generation.”

Photo: James Duncan Davidson

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