ETI Project Shows Vertical Axis Offshore Wind Turbines Could Provide Alternative to Conventional Horizontal Designs (UK)

Vertical axis wind turbines could provide a credible alternative to traditional horizontal offshore turbines in some circumstances, according to a project commissioned by the Energy Technologies Institute.

The £2.8m Nova project, a UK-based consortia of Wind Power Limited, OTM Consulting, Cranfield University, , the University of Strathclyde, Sheffield University, James Ingram & Associates, CEFAS and QinetiQ, was launched by the ETI in January 2009 to look at the feasibility of a novel offshore vertical axis turbine.

It examined the technical, economic and environmental feasibility of Wind Power’s Aerogenerator concept and highlighted the potential advantages over conventional turbines.

Offshore wind has the potential to reduce carbon emissions by around 50 million tonnes of CO2 a year once offshore wind capacity reaches 30GW. It will also support economic growth in the UK and increase security of energy supply.

The focus of the ETI project was on achieving significant cost reductions. The study examined whether vertical axis wind turbines could offer significantly cheaper electricity due to the size and scale of the machines as well as simpler maintenance when compared to conventional turbines.

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

“There are benefits in terms of the design of the turbines and accessibility at sea which could help reduce the cost of energy, although it is still early days in terms of delivering a full scale prototype.

“The study looked at both fixed and floating structures and concluded that floating turbines could be placed in deep water areas of over 60 metres which benefit from higher wind speeds. This would help to reduce the cost of electricity generated by wind power.

“It provided us with lots of information that, along with the results from our other two novel turbine projects, will help inform our decisions on the type of technologies we will be looking for in the next stage of our offshore wind programme. The next stage should see a demonstrator built and tested at sea, which will build on the insights from all three projects.

“It also demonstrated the ETI’s core values by creating a collaborative partnership between SMEs, universities and corporations that would not have happened otherwise. We gave those involved in the study access to substantial engineering knowledge to provide a more robust concept design and economic analysis.”

Wind Power’s founder, Theodore Bird, said: ““We are very grateful to the ETI for supporting this project. We hope to help the ETI fulfil its remit to accelerate the deployment of low carbon technologies and help the UK to deliver its statutory carbon reductions. I would also like to thank the 45 people who worked tirelessly on this project.

“As the company responsible for commercialising the technology we have appointed Arup as Project Management Engineer to take the Aerogenerator Project to the next stage and look forward to working closely with them over the coming years.

Professor Feargal Brennan of Cranfield University said: “The project demonstrated the tremendous potential for vertical axis wind turbines offshore compared with traditional designs, and should lead to renewed focus on investment and commercial development of very large vertical axis machines.”

Annie Hairsine, from OTM Consulting said: “It has been really exciting to see how the design and cost of energy for such an innovative concept has potential to bring about a step change in the offshore wind industry. Significant experience and knowledge has been developed in Phase 1 placing the UK in a unique position to lead the market for vertical axis turbines.”

One of the ETI’s other offshore wind projects, Deepwater, has already been completed. Further details are available at

Helm Wind, which is assessing the complete design system for an offshore wind turbine array, including installation, design, aerodynamics, electrical systems, control and maintenance, will be completed shortly.


Source: energytechnologies, February 28, 2011