Changing the Shape of Wind Turbines

We’ve become very accustomed to the look of wind turbines which have a few variations of the same basic design.

The traditional propeller wind turbines could be replaced in the future by a vertical design.

A research team from the School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics (ECM) at Oxford Brookes University 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).

VAWTS  spin around an axis vertical to the ground.

Professor Tzanakis explained:

“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.”

Farm of Vertical Axis Wind Turbines Image credit: Oxford Brookes University

Researcher Joachim Toftegaard Hansen added:

“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.”

The study is the first to comprehensively analyse many aspects of wind turbine performance, with regards to array angle, direction of rotation, turbine spacing, and number of rotors. It is also the first research to investigate whether the performance improvements hold true for three VAWT turbines set in a series.

The research Numerical modelling and optimization of vertical axis wind turbine pairs: A scale up approach was published in the International Journal of Renewable Energy (ELSEVIER)

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