Wind Energy Evolution And Expectations:
A typical case of trivialism.

G. L. Filkovsky,
Nomura Securities International,
New York, USA
e-mail:Gfilkovsky@us.nomura.com

The article, Wind Energy Evolution And Expectations: A typical case of gigantism, by Iñigo Martija de Nicolás, is a case of step-by-step reduction of a good idea to a trivial mistake.

The idea in hand is IFR, Ideal Final Result: An ideal technical system is a system that does not exist but its function is delivered. This is a wonderful guiding principle - how to use it for generating a bad idea?

Step 1. Ignore what the IFR principle really means and convert it to a trivialized "formula":
Ideality = S Useful functions / S Harmful Functions + S Costs.
Attention: this "formula" is not what IFR is about.

Step 2. ...if we don't take care about the secondary functions (useful or harmful) - we don't know how actually to sum them up - we can approximate the Ideality as:
Ideality ~ Energy production / Total Costs
.
Attention: this has nothing to do with the TRIZ idea of IFR - it's just a reasonable ratio to use in power station design.

Step 3. But for working this is a very difficult ratio, so we should use another simpler ratio:
Ideality ~ Installed Power / Mass = kW / Ton
.
Attention: this is "simpler" all right, but of a very limited use, too. Here is what happens if one uses it carelessly:

Step N. ...we can continue with this process trying in the next step ... to eliminate the tower and bring its useful effect to another element. If it were "another element of the system", it could be interesting - "a wind turbine holds itself in the air", but using just "another element" leads to utilizing a helium balloon or similar.
In other words, instead of a tower the author would use a balloon to hold a wind turbine. This does not make the system any closer to IFR, even if it would reduce its mass.

Consider its size. To provide the Archimedes buoyancy force necessary to support the 75 Tons (excluding foundations), the blimp should displace at least amount of air weighing 75 Tons. Since one liter of air weighs, roughly, 1 gram, the "balloon" should be at least 75000000 liters (even without considering a weight of gas in it, its own weight, etc.) That is 75000 cubic meters, or about 2250000 cubic feet. That is about 40m x 40m x 50m, or about 100'x100'x225'. Talking of gigantism...

Think of the winds. This is a wind turbine, it probably is installed somewhere with good winds. If the balloon were to hold the turbine, something should hold the balloon...

Imagine maintenance. A tower was pretty much maintenance free, but the gigantic Zeppelin would need a special attention...

Cost of making such a balloon... Materials... Wasted real estate... Safety...

At this point the author claims, We actually are in a non-return point in which the Ideality of the system increases and increases. This claim is plain wrong: if such a "solution" were ever considered, the next step of increasing Ideality, according to this TRIZ, would be getting rid of the balloon and setting the turbine on... a tower!