Is Apple set to give the wind-energy sector an overhaul?

8 Jan 2013

It seems Apple could be planning to develop a new type of wind power technology as the company has filed a patent for a wind-energy storage solution.

The consumer tech giant filed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2011, which Apple Insider stumbled upon in late December.

According to the filing, Apple is proposing a wind turbine that can generate electricity from stored wind energy.

Per Apple, the system would work by using a set of rotating blades to convert rotational energy from a wind turbine into heat in a low-heat-capacity fluid.

The system would then selectively transfer the heat from the low-heat-capacity fluid to a working fluid. Finally, Apple proposed that the system would use the transferred heat in the working fluid to generate electricity.

Rather than using rotating blades that rely on a supply of wind, Apple’s solution proposes reducing the costs that are associated with intermittent wind to power turbines.

In its filing, Apple stated that such variable nature of wind may limit the capacity to incorporate large amounts of wind power into a grid system.

Apple’s concept instead proposes a mechanism for mitigating the intermittency that can be associated with the production of electricity from wind energy.

Apple filed the patent in July 2011, so who knows whether or not the tech giant is still focused on the new wind storage concept, which could potentially one day power up its data centres.

Last May, Apple announced its plan to power its data centre in Maiden, North Carolina, entirely by renewable energy by the end of 2012, with 60pc of its renewable energy coming from on-site renewable sources

Apple was planning to build a 20-megawatt solar farm, covering 100 acres, around the data centre, as well as a fuel cell installation powered by biogas at the site.

Wind turbine image via Shutterstock

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic