Some engineers have looked to building structures, redesigning them to tap wind energy. Last year a company called Clean Wind Energy Tower Inc. got approval to develop two http://news.discovery.com/tech/downdraft-wind-tower-120606.htm Downdraft Towers in Arizona. The concept works like this: Water is pumped to the top of the 2,000-foot-tall cylindrical tower and sprayed into a mist. That cools the air, causing it to sink rapidly, at speeds up to 50 miles per hour. The falling air rushing through the bottom, where there are turbines that convert the motion into electricity.
Thresher compared the tower to an ocean thermal energy conversion or OTEC, where a device in the ocean picks up cold water from the bottom and warm water from the surface to run a heat engine on the temperature difference. The trouble is that to produce significant amounts of energy, the device has to be huge, he said. Then the structural cost is also high due to the large size. And, forget about planning offices or homes for wind energy buildings. In general, Thresher said, people tend to avoid living in windy places. “Look at Wyoming: great wind, no people.”