A huge canvas spread between two banks of lake Lagoda in Russia, reminds us of a sailing ship, being carried by the wind. At a time of huge demand for new solutions in the field of renewable energy sources, architect Laurie Chetwood suggests a literal wind dam, that captures and channels the wind into a turbine. Far different from normal generators, this idea will certainly be, if nothing else, controversial.
In fact, one of the inconvenients of turbine generators, placed on top of metal towers is the fact that they ruin the surrounding landscape: aeolian parks, which contain dozens of these towers, are just like forests made out of steel. Trying to solve this problem, the author of this project tried to combine engineering with sculpture, with accent on the latter. He is, actually, the first to admit that its shape came to be, as a result of wanting to be functional, but also out of a desire to create something rather sculptural: like a bird that dips its beak in the water, no more than a dot in the landscape.
This system consists of a canvas, with 25 metres in height and 75 metres in width, suspended by cables that channel the wind into a central opening, connected to a turbine that is also suspended. According to scientific studies, its concave shape is particularly effective in capturing the wind. Its similarities, in shape, to a water dam gave the project the nickname wind dam. Its construction is schedule to start in 2008 and, if everything runs smoothly, there already are plans to build another dam in the same area.
However, not everyone is keen on this idea and controversy has arisen. Some claim the 'dam' is a fraud, as it lacks any sort of undertanding of the basic principles of fluid dynamics. According to these, what makes any dam work is a difference in altitude (when it comes to water) and a difference in pressure when it comes to wind. In a ship's sail, the difference in pressure is small, nevertheless, its area is broad, which gives it impulse.
That having been said, at the present time, the canvas will only increase the wind's speed, not its pressure, seeing as the system will only work as an ordinary aeolian generator. The only thing innovative about it, then, is its shape...