Wind Lens turbines have seen use in small-scale applications in China and Japan over the past decade.
At the Beijing Institute of Nuclear and New Energy Technology, 13 1kW machines were installed as an additional electricity source, while in Gansu provincean array of six 5kW units provided the power backbone to an irrigation project, backed by Japan's New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation (Nedo), to reverse desertification in the area.
The Gansu project used the Wind Lens units as part of a microgrid set up, where the turbines supplied power to a pump-driven irrigation plant.
"The winds that blow from west to east in China were causing 'sand fall' in Japan as they picked up dry soil from this desert area of China," says Takashi Matsuura, honorary senior lecturer at University College London's centre for nanotechnology, who is working as a liaison officer in Europe for the inventor of the Wind Lens, Kyushu University's Professor Yuji Ohya.
"This is why Nedo helped fund this development," he adds. "So a plant was built for an irrigation pumping system that was powered building a network of distributed sources, ensuring that microgrids will stably supply electric power by combining the network and power-storage technology using batteries." In Japan last year, three 2.5-metre-diameter 5kW Wind Lens turbines were installed in a bay-side park area near Fukuoka city to provide power to the local area.
With average wind speeds of five metres per second (m/s), the turbines showed they could churn out some 6MWh a year, a figure Matsuura notes would climb exponentially in higher winds - with gusts averaging 8m/s, raising annual generation rates to something close to 18MWh.