Clean Power

Published on March 25th, 2011 | by Zachary Shahan


Offshore Vertical Axis Wind Turbines

March 25th, 2011 by  

"The Aerogenerator X design is half the height of an equivalent horizontal-axis turbine and its weight is concentrated at the base of the structure." (Click to enlarge.)

The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) has found that while traditional offshore wind turbines using a horizontal axis design are a good energy source in many locations now, vertical axis offshore turbines may be even better.

The ETI commissioned a £2.8-million ($4.5 million) project — the Nova project — which was conducted by a UK-based consortia of Wind Power Limited, OTM Consulting, Cranfield University, the University of Strathclyde, Sheffield University, James Ingram & Associates, CEFAS and QinetiQ to examine this topic from an economic, environmental, and technical viewpoint. The main focus, however, was to see if vertical axis offshore wind turbines like Wind Power’s Aerogenerator would be more cost-competitive.

The general finding: in some circumstances, yes, they would produce cheaper electricity.

“Traditional horizontal offshore wind turbines have adapted the existing technology found in onshore turbines,” ETI Chief Executive, Dr David Clarke, said. “The NOVA feasibility project is a radical concept which demonstrates that vertical axis machines are technically feasible and could be used in certain circumstances.”

While a full-scale prototype has not been developed yet, the study found that floating structures located in water at least 60 meters  (~197 feet) deep, where wind speeds are greater, would produce cheaper electricity. In such locations, the large amount of turbulence causes problems for horizontal turbines. It is also a challenge to put them at such depths.

wind power offshore

Wind Power Limited's "latest embodiment of its Aerogenerator project – 10MW Aerogenerator X."

The collaboration coordinated by the ETI is quite unique and the success of the process is something ETI was very happy about. The ETI states that the collaborative partnership between SMEs, universities and corporations, which would not have happened otherwise, “gave those involved in the study access to substantial engineering knowledge to provide a more robust concept design and economic analysis.” Always great to see extensive collaboration like that.

The next stage of research to evaluate vertical axis offshore wind turbines in more detail will be building and testing a demonstrator project out at sea.

via the ETI

Images & Captions via Arup, ©2010 Wind Power Limited and Grimshaw

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

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  • Bruce

    How fast will this turbine spin, at that size? I am sure that they will use a transmission to the generator.

  • Dr.A.Jagadeesh

    Gorlov helical turbine, the Savonius wind turbine, the Giromill, the variable geometry wind turbine, and the Lenz wind turbine are some of the past vertical axis wind turbines.

    There are some advantages of VERTICAL AXIS WIND TURBINES:

    Vertical Axis Wind Turbines, more commonly referred to as VAWTs, have the generator and gearbox assembled near the ground instead of these parts being supported by a tower. This proves to be advantageous especially considering maintenance purposes. Part of the disadvantage of using a wind turbine is the difficulty of setting up a tower to put it up. With these turbines, there is no need for tower structures. They also have parts which are easier to maintain. Because they have a high airfoil pitch angle, they also have increased aerodynamic systems and decreased drag during low and high pressure systems. They are less likely to break down and collapse during high winds. There are areas where horizontal axis wind turbines may be prohibited. In these areas, Vertical Axis Wind Turbines may be the alternatives. They also take advantage of areas like hilltops and ridge lines which funnel the wind for a higher wind velocity.

    I am glad that Vertical Axis Wind Turbines are staging a comeback which are of larger size than the past ones.

    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore (AP), India
    Wind Energy Expert

    • yeah, i’m really hoping to see these live up to their supposed potential. looks like they have some great advantages in certain situations

  • Nate Green

    I was wondering if you had heard about the Wind Tower Systems technology that GE acquired recently. They think it is a game changer for wind power in that it will make putting windmills up much cheaper. These towers also allow wind towers to be higher making them more powerful.

    • i saw some headlines on it but hadn’t read on it in detail. thanks for the links

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