Offshore Vertical Axis Wind Turbines

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"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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Zachary Shahan

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