Question: I recently saw a cool way to improve a ship's mileage by using a large kite-like device attached to the ship. What other innovative ways of using wind power have you seen recently?

Answer 1/2
Windmills and wind-powered ships have been around for a couple thousand years.

Here are some less-well known ways to get energy from wind power that are currently being investigated:

1. There are materials that generate electricity when warped. It is possible to form such material into tall, thin rods that bend back and forth in the wind. A patch of such rods can generate a worthwhile amount of electricity.

2. Kite-like wind turbines. Several companies in the United States are developing platforms that float in the air while tethered to the ground, like kites. On these platforms are standard wind turbines. The advantage is that at high altitudes the wind current is much stronger (the jet stream, for instance). The electricity generated by the turbines is sent down via the tether. An additional advantage to such a system is that the spinning blades pose no threat to birds since birds can't fly at high altitudes.

Also of interest (as a curiosity) is a recently-built car-like vehicle that is wind powered and that can travel along the ground in the direction of the wind FASTER than the wind itself. Try to figure out how that works!
by out o'time
Answer 2/2
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