New windmills on Honolulu Harbor drydock attract attention

Navatek hopes the $500,000 investment will cut electrical costs in half

Published  3:01 AM HST Jan 18, 2013
Windmill
HONOLULU -

It's a first.  Windmills on a drydock in Honolulu's Harbor.

It's a $500,000 investment that military contractor Navatek hopes will cut its electrical costs by half, thanks in part to narrow plasma-coated strips.

"It has been tested in the lab in a wind tunnel on short wings, but this is the first full scale wind turbine," said Navatek's Neal Fine.

Fine says the plasma works to control the flow around the surface of the blade to lower the drag and improve the lift.

Fine said,  "The more lift you get on the blade the more power you can generate."

Fine says Honolulu Harbor is actually an ideal place to test out these turbines because the winds blow at about 20 mph.  And the turbines are actually smaller than a lot of cranes in the area so they didn't require any special state harbor permits.

"If we can prove it at this scale, we can scale it up to industrial size at 1.5 or 5 megawatts, or maybe even the super big ones like 7.5 megawatts.  That's the goal to prove the efficiency for these industrial scale turbines," said Fine.

The 100-foot-tall towers get extra lift since they are hydraulically attached on 30-foot-tall walls to get up into the air stream.

They are designed to start spinning at 12-to-13 mph, and unlike other turbines, are
actively controlled can respond to changes in the wind at any time.

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