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Wandering in It

The futuristic look of Abu Dhabi may eventually soften to include a landscape of reedlike bladeless turbines.

Alan Copson/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

City planners in Abu Dhabi imagined a futuristic community in which clean energy would be more than energy; it would be enjoyed. Design firms submitted proposals, and a company in New York won first prize for its concept of a field of reedlike turbines that move in the breeze like stalks of wheat.

Atelier DNA envisioned slim, graceful turbines called Windstalks. Each LED-lit, 180-foot (55-meter) stalk sways in the wind, creating kinetic energy to drive a torque generator [source: Danigelis]. A slim, bladeless design allows for close spacing, safety for birds and bats and, most uniquely, a lovely evening stroll: Designers hope residents will one day take walks through a farm of swaying Windstalks, experiencing clean energy as something like art.

The idea turns the wind farm into a visually enjoyable installation, rather than one to put up with in the name of clean, renewable power. It's an innovative way of removing one of the loudest objections to wind farms today, imagining instead the possibility that in the future, people might actually want to live near acres and acres of turbines.

Next, calling on one of the oldest, most efficient ways to capture the power of wind ...

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