There have been many ideas about how to increase the energy yield of wind power facilities. Most solutions included pairing the wind turbines with solar cells (usually on onshore wind farms), or with wave energy conversion devices (usually at offshore wind facilities). How about pairing the wind turbines with a biogas powered air-compressor?
Hybrid Turbines has announced its SmartGen solution, a patent pending concept that involves the coupling of a wind turbine with a gas-burning turbine/compressor system. Basically, a gas powered turbine system produces energy which powers a turbo-compressor which sends compressed air up to the wind turbine. The pressurized air is then used to spin the wind turbine during low wind speeds. This effectivelly eliminates the intermittent nature of wind powered electrical generators, and since compressed air is used, the process is pretty safe (ex. no danger of fire, etc). Best of all, the additional module needed to allow this process to be used at a wind farm can be added to existing wind turbines on the market. Hybrid Turbines claims their solution is currently applicable to units with up to 4 MW of capacity, onshore or offshore.
Having a hybrid system like this significantly increases the amount of produced energy at a wind power facility. Even when natural gas is used, the environmental impact is about half of that produced by conventional fossil fuels such as coal.
[source: Hybrid Turbines]