It might be called Compromise Design: If cost constraints would prevent the perfect object from being commercially successful, is it better to design something with inferior performance but feasible manufacturability?
That was the question answered with a "yes" by Israeli company Winflex Wind Turbines, whose Composite Material Flexible Rotor consists of sail-like blades connected to an inflatable wheel.
The unique rotor design enables a dramatically simpler overall turbine layout resulting in a cost effective and competitive system for a wide range of power ratings, starting with small turbines and scaling up to MW range. The unique and simple manufacturing method of the rotor, without the need for expensive molds or special tooling, enables tailor-made, rapid design and assembly of the WINFLEX turbine, according to the specific site characteristics and customer requirements, providing maximum efficiency and overall cost effectiveness.
Sure it's not as efficient as a conventional wind turbine, but its lower cost, durable structure, easy transportation & installation, and low-maintenance will hopefully outweigh that in the marketplace, enabling a bunch of these to go up where the regular kind was too expensive. And Winflex has at least one big-dog supporter: Two months ago they won an Innovation Award in GE's Ecomagination Challenge, a competition seeking ideas for how to generate energy in the future.