Vertical turbines could be the future for wind farms, say researchers

Posted: April 27, 2021 by oldbrew in Energy, research, wind
Tags: ,

One of many vertical axis wind turbine designs

Vertical axis wind turbines aren’t new, but early reliability problems are supposed to have been largely ironed out now. The gearbox and generator are close to the ground, and they require less land per unit, but there’s less wind lower down. Given that we’re stuck with the wind power obsession for now, they may be worth a try if the computer simulations are anything to go by.
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The now-familiar sight of traditional propeller wind turbines could be replaced in the future with wind farms containing more compact and efficient vertical turbines, says TechXplore.

New research from Oxford Brookes University has found that the vertical turbine design is far more efficient than traditional turbines in large scale wind farms, and when set in pairs the vertical turbines increase each other’s performance by up to 15%.

A research team from the School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics (ECM) at Oxford Brookes led by Professor Iakovos Tzanakis conducted an in-depth study using more than 11,500 hours of computer simulation to show that wind farms can perform more efficiently by substituting the traditional propeller type Horizontal Axis Wind Turbines (HAWTs), for compact Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (VAWTs).

Vertical turbines are more efficient than traditional windmill turbines

The research demonstrates for the first time at a realistic scale, the potential of large scale VAWTs to outcompete current HAWT wind farm turbines,

VAWTs spin around an axis vertical to the ground, and they exhibit the opposite behaviour of the well-known propeller design (HAWTs). The research found that VAWTs increase each other’s performance when arranged in grid formations. Positioning wind turbines to maximise outputs is critical to the design of wind farms.

Professor Tzanakis comments “This study evidences that the future of wind farms should be vertical. Vertical axis wind farm turbines can be designed to be much closer together, increasing their efficiency and ultimately lowering the prices of electricity. In the long run, VAWTs can help accelerate the green transition of our energy systems, so that more clean and sustainable energy comes from renewable sources.”

With the UK’s wind energy capacity expected to almost double by 2030, the findings are a stepping stone towards designing more efficient wind farms, understanding large scale wind energy harvesting techniques and ultimately improving the renewable energy technology to more quickly replace fossil fuels as sources of energy.

Cost effective way to meet wind power targets

According to the Global Wind Report 2021, the world needs to be installing wind power three times faster over the next decade, in order to meet net zero targets and avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Lead author of the report and Bachelor of Engineering graduate Joachim Toftegaard Hansen commented: “Modern wind farms are one of the most efficient ways to generate green energy, however, they have one major flaw: as the wind approaches the front row of turbines, turbulence will be generated downstream. The turbulence is detrimental to the performance of the subsequent rows.

“In other words, the front row will convert about half the kinetic energy of the wind into electricity, whereas for the back row, that number is down to 25-30%. Each turbine costs more than £2 million/MW. As an engineer, it naturally occurred to me that there must be a more cost-effective way.”

Full article here.

  1. Stephen Richards says:

    They can chop and blend in one movement

  2. tallbloke says:

  3. JB says:

    Turbines are screamers.

    And I expect they have not spent one minute of that 11.5kh simulation on wind bursts,severe inclement weather, icing, torsional effects on the drive shaft–

    and most of all, wind falloff over the next century.

  4. Chaswarnertoo says:

    Can we have fusion yet, please?

  5. Curious George says:

    They simulate a new design that has not been patented yet. Don’t expect technical details.

  6. Spirit of the wind says:

    Betz law, they have no future they are the past.
    They belong in a medieval little ice Bruegel painting.
    There’s a reason steam replaced sails and wind power, it’s crap.

  7. Gamecock says:

    ‘using more than 11,500 hours of computer simulation’

    Gross waste of resources. And proud of it.

    Shouldn’t a professor of engineering be able to just pull out his slide rule and get the answer forthwith?

  8. cognog2 says:

    When I looked into this back in the 70s I concluded that amid the potential advances of these vertical axis turbines was the fact that there were not only high stresses put upon the blades as there were operating at equivalent tip speeds of the horizontal axis units, but that these stresses reversed at twice the cycle speed. The prospect of Fatigue Failure would be there as a major problem.and at that point I ceased further consideration.

  9. oldbrew says:

    From Wikipedia:
    The blades of a VAWT are fatigue-prone due to the wide variation in applied forces during each rotation. This can be overcome by the use of modern composite materials and improvements in design – including the use of aerodynamic wing tips that cause the spreader wing connections to have a static load.

  10. oldmanK says:

    Gamecock says: April 27, 2021 at 11:00 pm
    Q “Shouldn’t a professor of engineering be able to just pull out his slide rule and get the answer forthwith?” I saw my slide rule in a museum. Mixed feelings.

    Q “‘using —— computer simulation’” I fiddle with computer simulation as a hobby (the harmless type). Far more versatile than the old slide-rule. However I have serious reservations about simulation and design software in the wrong hands.

  11. Gamecock says:

    Cheers, oldman.

    I am a retired computer scientist. I was responsible for some computer simulations.

    Engineers determined how things worked, codified it, and it was programmed. The models worked perfectly, as we knew how things worked.

    Climate models (sic) are designed by people who DON’T KNOW how climate works. They expect the models to tell them. It is completely stupid backwards. You have to know before you can model.

    Modelling what you don’t know (clouds, anyone?) isn’t modelling.

  12. oldbrew says:

    Off topic but anyway…

    Andy May 5 hours ago

    Clouds and Global Warming

    Oops! Clouds cannot be modeled, models assume their clouds have a warming effect, CERES says clouds have a net cooling effect, a large net cooling effect of -18 W/m².
    – – –
    Climate pseudo-religion relies on assumptions – the wrong ones, usually.

  13. stpaulchuck says:

    I’ve wondered off and on about this. They are way more compact for one thing. I just haven’t had the time to devote to researching costs and negative issues like noise and vibrations.

    In the end though, all windmills are stupid outside WAY off grid places like some farms and ranches.

    IMAO, nukes are the way to go. A dozen fast neutron units to ‘burn’ up all the spent fuel rods sitting in pools right now and about 50 to 100 small modular units planted at the end of grids next to small cities and farm towns, efficient, zero pollution. The Navy’s been using them for over 50 years and I bet they are powering those secret bunkers for the special people and very hush hush military facilities no one knows about.

  14. Gamecock says:

    “Navy’s been using them for over 50 years”


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