Billionaire Bill Gates Bets on ‘Carousel’ Turbines to Revolutionise Wind Power

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Microsoft founder Bill Gates is putting his money behind an innovative new wind turbine design he believes could slash the cost of wind energy in half. Through his Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund, the billionaire invested $4 million in seed funding for Airloom Energy – a company that’s developed a unique carousel-style wind turbine.

Rather than using massive blades rotating on tall towers like standard turbines, Airloom’s lightweight system runs smaller blades along a rotating track only 80 feet off the ground. The novel utility-scale wind devices are touted to churn out the same amount of power as conventional horizontal axis turbines at a fraction of the size, materials and cost. While traditional wind turbines can tower over 500 feet tall with 180-foot blades, Airloom’s compact, carousel-style rigs max out at just 400 meters long and utilize 30-foot blades. Airloom’s minimalist approach brings advantages across the turbine’s entire lifespan. The company points out their systems use readily available parts for fast manufacturing.

Plus, a whole 2.5-megawatt rig can fit inside a single tractor-trailer for transport. And they don’t need massive concrete platforms to install. Carmichael Roberts of Breakthrough Energy Ventures believes Airloom’s creative design solves some key pain points holding wind power back. He says the industry’s traditional approach of just building ever-bigger turbines faces challenges now around siting and material costs. The decreased weight and materials also mean the carousel-style rigs will have far lower landfill impacts when decommissioned after use. Gates and other investors are betting the startup’s compact cyclical design will breathe new life into the renewable energy sector. Airloom’s simple yet ingenious turbine carousels prove big ideas can come in small packages. The modest Wyoming startup may hold the key to kicking wind power up to the next level.

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