Opportunities and Challenges for Next-Generation Wind Energy

Stanford professor John Dabiri will deliver the second annual Dana M. Dourdeville Lecture on Engineering in Service to Society on November 11 in MacMillan Hall 117. Guests are encouraged to preregister to reserve a seat.

Despite common characterizations of modern wind energy technology as mature, there remains a persistent disconnect between the vast global wind energy resource --- which is at least an order of magnitude greater than total global power consumption --- and the limited penetration of existing wind energy technologies as a means for electricity generation worldwide.

This talk will describe an approach to wind energy harvesting that has the potential to resolve this disconnect by leveraging concepts from unsteady fluid mechanics and biology-inspired engineering. Whereas wind farms consisting of propeller-style turbines produce 2 to 3 watts of power per square meter of the wind farm footprint, full-scale field tests over the past five years have demonstrated that 10x increases in wind farm footprint power density can be achieved by arranging vertical-axis wind turbines in layouts inspired by the configurations of schooling fish and seagrass beds. Opportunities for near-term application of this technology will be discussed, as will remaining challenges for wide-scale implementation of this approach to wind energy.

Dabiri is a Full Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering and of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. His research focuses on science and technology at the intersection of fluid mechanics, energy and environment, and biology. Honors for this work include a MacArthur Fellowship, an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, and a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). Popular Science magazine named him one of its "Brilliant 10" scientists for his research in bio-inspired propulsion. For his research in bio-inspired wind energy, Bloomberg Businessweek magazine listed him among its Technology Innovators, and MIT Technology Review magazine named him one of its 35 innovators under 35. In 2014, he was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society. He currently serves on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Fluid Mechanics and the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, and he is a member of the U.S. National Committee for Theoretical and Applied Mechanics.

About the Lecture

Established in 2015, the Dana M. Dourdeville Lecture on Engineering in Service to Society aims to bring high-profile speakers to campus whose career and impact embody the spirit of engineering in service to society. The speakers should inspire students to see the engineering discipline as one having an impact on society that is both profound and transformative.