A Norwegian company claims that its strange new wind turbine design will be able to produce more than double the electricity of the largest unit on the planet.
The type of wind turbine you’re used to seeing in photos of wind farms is called a horizontal axis wind turbine (or, HAWT). But there is another form of wind power, called a vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT), in which the blades rotate on an axis perpendicular to Earth’s surface. This type of turbine can work better in unstable wind conditions because they don’t need to be pointed into the wind, but still produce much less electricity. That’s why you would only see VAWTs in small applications, like homes, and HAWTs in wind power farms.
But a new company claims to have radically improved on the VAWT design. So much so that their invention could create a turbine with an output of whopping 40 megawatts, far surpassing the 15 megawatts of the world’s current largest turbine. That company is called World Wide Wind, a Norwegian startup, who are 'rethinking offshore wind'. The Norwegians want to dramatically increase their wind energy production and are perfectly placed to do so as the country is on the incredibly windy shores of the North Sea.
Company founder Stian Valentin Knutsen wondered if it would be possible to have two sets of rotor blades on a single turbine mast, making them rotate in opposite directions. “The idea was to increase the energy output of the vertical turbines while simultaneously eliminating the increased torsional forces and the inherent problems associated with upscaling traditional HAWTs for increased energy outputs,” said company spokesperson Elsbeth Tronstad. Knutsen looked for scientists to test the possibilities and finally met Hans Bernhoff, a professor at the department of electrical engineering at Uppsala University, in Sweden.
Bernhoff had been doing research on vertical wind turbines for more than 20 years and was impressed by Knutsen’s theoretical model. He joined the company, developing the idea of the large tilted offshore floating turbine that World Wide Wind is now working on. The design employs two coaxial, or counter-rotating, rotors mounted on a vertical shaft.
Next stage: lots of testing. Then, if all goes according to plan, the world will suddenly be able to produce twice as much clean energy from each turbine installation, marking a radical shift in our ability to help save the planet through the power of the wind.
World's First Wind Energy Island: In 1991, Denmark cut the ribbon to the world’s first offshore wind farm - marking a new era in the transition towards cleaner energy. Now, the country is to further expand its green energy potential by building the world’s first energy island in the North Sea - that will also benefit its neighbours. Read on...
Today's Magazine articles