Designs for wind power production have gone through some interesting evolutions in recent years, but to date, technology has struggled to produce anything genuinely better than the traditional wind turbine with its horizontal axis and rotating blades. The effectiveness of this design explains why we picture 'giant windmills' in our mind when thinking about wind energy - both onshore and offshore - and it is demonstrated particularly strongly in Scotland, where wind energy is gaining real traction.
However, the rotating blade design is controversial for causing a danger to bats and birds, and manufacturing can be very costly. The cost has been one of the main reasons that the technology hasn't yet been fully adopted in the USA, for example.
However, a start-up - Accio Energy - has created a new wind energy design which uses no moving parts but instead places large panels on to masts, allowing sea winds to blow through the permeable mesh. The underpinning technology is unique. Each panel releases a spray of positively charged droplets from the sea's water. As the wind passes through this mist, the charges are separated, which creates a direct electrical current of nearly 200,000 volts. This is passed through a high-voltage cable and transferred back to the grid on land.
The technology is called ElectroHydroDynamics (EHD), and Accio has been granted $5 million by the US government for testing. The company says that a test prototype should be ready within just one to two years. It also believes that the cost of wind production could be slashed by 50pc if the new technology is effective, and it comes with a capacity factor that is also 40pc higher. It is now seeking partners to bring the technology to commercial readiness.