Future wind farms may completely run on vertical turbines

Scientists have predicted through a study that future wind farms may be completely powered by vertical turbines instead of the currently used traditional propeller wind turbines.

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%.

The prediction has been made after 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.

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.

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.

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