Imagine a windmill. It probably looks like this or this. And most alternatives have blades that turn when the wind blows against them. But in urban environments this model isn't ideal.
Now there's a windmill design that looks more like a contemporary sculpture than an electricity-generating device. Delft University of Technology developed a windmill, called EWICON (Electrostatic Windenergy Convertor), that captures wind energy without visibly moving parts. So how exactly does a bladeless windmill generate electricity? Basically, electrically charged water droplets are moved by the wind creating more electricity. The video below explains the concept in more detail.
The windmill was designed by Dutch architecture firm Mecanoo, who touts the benefits of their model as: decreased wear and tear, reduced maintenance costs, and no noise pollution or shadow casting.
The concept is still in the development stage, so there are few specific details like how much it could cost commercially or how much power it can generate, but the first model was recently erected on the Delft campus.
Still, it could be a cost-effective solution. And not just in cities, the university argues:
Constructing wind farms at sea could very well be an efficient solution, because the wind farms would be out of view. Considering the intensive maintenance currently involved with wind turbines, the operating costs of a wind farm at sea would severely limit the economic feasibility of this option.