As fish swim, they shed tiny vortices. In large schools of fish, individuals transfer energy to each other with these vortices, lowering the energetic costs of swimming. Researcher John Dabiri has taken inspiration from this strategy and applied similar principles to the spatial design of wind farms. By placing vertical-axis turbines (different from the traditional horizontal-axis, propeller-style turbines) close together in a strategic array, energy is gathered by each turbine, while simultaneously directing wind to nearby turbines. Dabiri's research team, supported in part by Windspire Energy Inc., is currently working to determine ideal positioning of turbines to achieve optimal power output.
The largest issue facing wind farms is the space required for propeller-style turbines to function properly. FLOWE's vertical-axis turbine design demands less space to operate. Turbines are placed in close proximity as a necessary part of the spatial design, significantly decreasing the acreage necessary to gather wind power.