More Compact and Efficient Vertical Turbines Could Be the Future for Wind Farms

Farm of Vertical Axis Wind Turbines. Credit: Oxford Brookes University

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.

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 behavior 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 maximize 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.”

The study is the first to comprehensively analyze 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.

Dr. Mahak co-author of the article and Senior Lecturer in ECM comments: “The importance of using computational methods in understanding flow physics can’t be underestimated. These types of design and enhancement studies are a fraction of the cost compared to the huge experimental test facilities. This is particularly important at the initial design phase and is extremely useful for the industries trying to achieve maximum design efficiency and power output.”

The research was published in the International Journal of Renewable Energy (ELSEVIER).

Reference: “Numerical modelling and optimization of vertical axis wind turbine pairs: A scale up approach” by Joachim Toftegaard Hansen, Mahak Mahak and Iakovos Tzanakis, 4 March 2021, Renewable Energy.
DOI: 10.1016/j.renene.2021.03.001

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  • Arch114

    N O N S E N S E
    Like sails of a sailboat the blades need to
    1) Have enormous surface because energy output is exponentially greater, proportionally to the SQUARE of the rotor area; and
    2) Needs to be placed as high as possible because energy increases exponentially proportionally to the CUBE of the wind’s speed and wind speed is exponentially faster further up.

    This means placing a huge rotor as high up as possible is the most economical way to make electricity. Sufficiently economical electricity to deliver a mortal blow to dirty fossil fuels.

    The blades moving in the a plane vertical to gravity is the reason the three blade rotor can scale up to eliminate life threatening fossil fuels. The helical vertical wind turbines is a hoax as an alternative to real wind turbines because the laws of physic says it can not scale up.

    Now why three blades, why not more? Because of the moment of rotational inertia. From that point of view one blade would be ideal. But as you scale up torsion becomes a problem. When turbines were smaller one blade variety was ideal but as they grew bigger and bigger to capture more wind, they had to add a second blade to address the asymmetry causing torsion. However as the turbines became even bigger the wind speed differential between top and bottom became so big that when the blades were straight up and down and the bottom blade was in the shadow of the pole, torsion became a problem again. So the three blade turbine evolved into a the perfect design that brought the fossil fuel economy to its knees.

    The drivel about vertical wind turbines for industrial scale applications is so much claptrap say the laws of physics.

    • Clyde Spencer

      You said, “Sufficiently economical electricity to deliver a mortal blow to dirty fossil fuels.” This doesn’t sound to me like someone who is an unbiased, objective observer. Be that as it may, can you provide a citation for you claim of superior economics?

  • Arch114

    oops correction
    The blades moving in the vertical plane, parallel to gravity is the reason the three blade rotor can scale up to eliminate life threatening fossil fuels.
    In the comment above I messed up sorry.

  • steve8714

    Wind speed increases exponentially? Please. so, if it’s 20 mph at ground level, it’s 400 mph at axis level?

  • Frank Kushner

    Looks like workers wouldn’t have to work up as high. Saw report 15 die each year on wind and solar “farms”.
    Saw one video two hugging before fire reached them.
    Go nukes with SMR’s.

    • Drew

      How many people die in coal mines or oil drilling accidents each year. 1 life lost is too many… but 15 a year is far less than the fossil fuel industry, I’m sure.

  • Trent west

    Why is it that no one talks about individual home energy production that would save the individual citizen’s unbelievable amounts of money with small scale energy production? I believe it’s because the powers that be don’t or won’t allow it for protection of their profits ! There are many ways we can produce plenty of energy unfortunately we are not allowed for the sake of energy companies hold on our politicians making laws to prevent small scale energy production. It’s time we look at the big picture & see what is really going on.

    • Chris

      No one talks too much about individual production because it rarely makes economic sense, and if people realize it doesn’t make economic sense on small scale they will be less understanding about deployment on large scale.
      I have looked into both wind and solar at my home several times. Most optimistic is 15 year pay back but reality with time value of money it is more like 30 years. Most wind and solar are 25 year life expectancy while seeing diminishing returns during that time.

  • Celso Backes

    No blow for fossils fuel for the next twenty years.You are ill inform.Electricity needs will grow 50%,fossil fuel contributions still will be 25%,do the mathematics.

  • Rob Tyler

    I dismiss anyone who uses the words , “Fossil Fuels, Global Warming, Climate Change, Carbon Footprint or Carbon being bad or life Saving” speak in any fashion 2 the above Words: Such as We need 2 “save” our planet.

    First off Fossil Fuels are a lie. Dinosaurs did not turn into oil when they died. They petrified into Mud Fossils due 2 the Minerals in the Water of the Great World flood(Noah’s flood) that wiped them out. Oil is Organic and the Earth creates it. Many Wells can run empty of it but in time fill back up. The Earth Naturally creates it.

    Global Warming is a lie. Is is such a joke they had 2 remarket that lie Term(as no one was buying it) as Climate Change. Climates change 4 times a year. Winter Spring Summer Fall. It’s a fake Enemy like the War on ,”Terror”. Who is Terror? What country is Terror? It’s a fake Enemy meant 2 create endless Wars against a booty man. Same with Climate Change.

    Carbon is not bad. Humans are made up of Carbon. All living Creatures are. By Peddling the lie of Carbon Footprint- they are really meaning massive Curtailing of People. The same Global Satanists pushing 4 Climate Change measures are the same ones that want our now 8 Billion Humans on Earth 2 be reduced to 50 Million. They are possessed n Demons hate people. Kill, Steal, Destroy is all they know. And stupid Sheep fall 4 it. And the other main goal of “fighting climate change” is a global tax. They wanna steal more money. In most countries it’s up to 90% they steal from people if one includes all forms of taxes. And more then robbing people it is to control people. Create this fake Narritive over a long enough time and stupid people fall for it. Even more stupid people will bend over their backs to virtue signal how Rightess they are(in truth they are deluded and stupid and mindless attention hoars).

    I am knocking real pollution like Chemicals in water Factories so polluting in China that the smog and air quality are so bad to breath. But in America the air quality is very good in most places besides So Can. And that’s only cause it’s a desert n not enough trees 2 filter the air. Not 2 mention the same Global powers intentionally release Chem Trails(not Com trails- that’s diff) 2 poison the air. So the same Powers who are pushing most 4 Carbon reduction/ Climate Control Measures are the same Entities spending Billions Intentionally Droping Chemicals n heavy metals in all the Sky’s 2 block out the Sun(which cleans Earth Naturally) n Poisen the air. Agenda much? Most people are dumb. Their is no Mother Earth. There is no Mother Nature. That comes from Witchcraft. If one comprehends terms and knows Agenda’s one can all the Pieces up nicely and figure out the Truth and why the Constant Lies.

    • Clyde Spencer

      I think that you dialed in the wrong stargate. This is supposed to be for science.

    • Eamon

      I dismiss anyone who believes in any number-conservation theories and only types numbers instead of the full words just to save a few letters.

  • Max Power

    Many people have been saying for years that this next generation of vertical wind turbines are much, MUCH better because they are capable of catching more wind than these gargantuan wind mills they’ve been putting up, & therefore they can generate power with less wind than the current models require. I’ve also heard another upside to the vertical turbines is that they don’t have to be shut down when the wind is really blowing like they currently need too. At the time I saw this concept they were talking about how much energy could be generated by a hurricane if we had vertical wind generators that could be left to run as a storm rolls through.
    Jay Leno has had a residential sized vertical turbine for several years on his garage & it generates the electric for the lights… maybe outlets too im not sure.
    I hope this concept gains momentum & a more effective & less intrusive design prevails.

  • Chris

    Generating energy from wind/sun isn’t that hard, storing it is a nasty business, until 24+ hours of utility lvl storage is available, all we are doing is throttling fossil fuel generator up and down which can make MORE CO2 than it is saving.

  • Gam

    There cannot ‘compact’ designs. Wind surface area is paramount like apature of a camera lens.

  • Frosted Flake

    The reason wind turbines look like a desk fan is, there was a fan on the desk of the engineer who drew up the initial design on the back of an envelope.

    The reason vertial turbines are the way to go are two :
    1/ You can make them look like thay aren’t moving. This does a lot to improve the view.
    2/ You can make them is such a way that bugs and birds are PUSHED AWAY from the mill instead of SUCKED INTO it.

  • Clinton Maffett

    Do they slaughter birds?

  • Delvin

    With ONE small, efficient solar panel, and 10-20 ordinary (or better) car batteries, I have been able to free my household of the corporate power stranglehold. I get a full 220v and if i need more, my trusty PETRO POWERED GENERATOR (which runs on propane, gasoline, or whatever TF I tell it to) covers the rest. Come on people. If you can do your own thinking, you can find solutions. Easy peasy.

  • Joe

    I wonder how many years these things go without major maintenance? Add that to the cost. Now add bird the increase in bird kills because of the design.the ecos will have a conception fit.

  • Fireofenergy

    There is no design drawing which suggests such is the case. Both the fact that the vertical blade must also go against the wind, and, because of that, there should be even more turbulence.

  • Eric

    There is only one company that makes these kind of Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (VAWT) for offshore wind that this research report now concludes is superior to traditional HAWTs. Checkout SeaTwirl.com.

  • Daniel Glanz, Sr., B.S.Civ.Eng., M.S. Env. Eng., J.D.

    I stopped reading when it said it was based on a simulation by a Bachelor of Engineering graduate. Give me a little actual measurement under real world conditions. Simulation of unique or new concepts are particularly suspect since the values of the parameters are unknown. BTW, I have a Master of Engineering deree and did computer simulations for pay.

  • geofff

    Hopefully vertical wind farms can be less obtrusive. Thier posts & horizontal struts can be grey or pale blue, as the white moving blade give 360 degree cover for anti-collision?

  • Dave. B

    Daniel with the ‘deree’:) why would you stop reading am article and then comment on it.? That is akin to reading half a book and them attempting to critique it. Mate we understand these articles allow comments in order to promote free speech and sharing of knowledge but if I could make a suggestion, please actually READ the article and ‘then’ with all your engineering knowledge, tell us all ‘why’ you think the measurements or other calculations are wrong. If you are an engineer, come on, act like one, heaven knows the planet needs you guys

  • Tom

    Computer simulation vs the real world? Let’s delay deployment of what works? Vertical Wind Turbines have been around for a longtime and have not performed as well as my five bladed standard turbine.

  • Roger Fischer

    Am not sold on claimed efficiency. These have been around a long time, and efficiency with them has always been a problem. A blade exposed to wind only 35% of the time in one rotation cannot produce the same energy as a blade exposed 100% during a full rotation.

  • ManWithPlan

    This seems like a pi$$ing contest to me. Whoever “claims” to know a better way…. PROVE it with real, operating samples of your computer generated design. Then you have won the pi$$ing contest.

  • Doobidoo

    CO2 at 0.04% is a 2500th of the atmosphere. That means to warm the climate by just 1″C carbon dioxide molecules must capture 2500″C of heat energy. That is bonkers. It also breaks all the laws of thermodynamics. 

    Methane is 0.00017% of the atmosphere so its even more bonkers.

    However, the climate is getting warmer. This is because of deliberate geoengineering programmes, in particular ozone thinning away from the poles. Though largely unreported ozone thinning effect is directly observable, this summer you will see a unnaturally bright sun just as we did last year. Under these conditions the pain felt when looking at the sun is not only from the increase in visible light but the much larger increase in infrared. 

    Climate change is a programme to force change in accordance with the implementation of Agenda 21 /2030. Current events demonstrate this transition is well underway and will involve massive population cull through injected nanotech (read transhumanist programme). Agenda 21 also sees the permanent loss of all property rights with the introduction of universal basic income (ref NESARA/GESARA) and has is being promoted by The World Economic Forum. 

    ‘You will own nothing and you will be happy’ WEF

    In a depopulated world the surviving brainwashed and controlled population will be confined to mega cities. Carbon limits will be used to restrict consumption and liberty. Meanwhile the re-greened wilderness will be the exclusive playground of the ultra rich elite posing as conservationists. 

    The CO2 hoax amounts to the theft of the world and the enslavement of humanity by a parasitic few. 

    Welcome to the future!

    _________

    I have included a debunking of ‘accumulated heat’ as it is so often used to explain how trace elements, so called ‘greenhouse gasses’, can warm the planet.

    Accumulated heat whilst sounding a reasonable explanation of how heat can build up is rather nothing more than gobbledygook. In fact it shows those using such arguments do not even understand what heat is.

    When we measure temperature we are measuring the heat energy a thing is losing. In short heat is a measurement of flow, the transfer of heat energy and this will always be in the direction towards the colder. For this reason a thing can never ‘accumulate heat’ in the way those advocating CO2 climate change describe. The temperature of a body is the measure of heat output, it can never be greater than the measure of heat input. Output = input. When a thing is warmed it is heated to an equivalent of the heat input. If this input is not maintained it will cool. Those that propose that heat can build up to be hotter than the total measure of heat input at a given time either do not understand what heat is or are being deliberately misleading. To illustrate, an object being heated by a flame can never become hotter than that flame, it’s temperature cannot rise inexorably to the temperature of the sun for instance. Heat cannot be accumulated. When we think about it common sense tells us this must be the case.

    NASA and even Nobel Prize winning physicists have expounded ‘accumulated heat’ as the explanation how CO2 is able to warm the atmosphere. They claim that over hundreds of years CO2 has captured heat energy and this heat has ‘accumulated’ to produce a serious warming effect. As I have just explained, this is totally impossible and fundamentally violates thermodynamics. That respected scientists should support such uneducated, unthinking nonsense is disturbing and only reflects that in terms of being able to think clearly about a subject they have no facility or inclination. These are the Dark Ages of science. Belief has outweighed logic or any critical thought. It tells us that we should not unquestioning accept anything we are told, that experts can be fools.

    (NB: please do not try to attempt to discard thermodynamics by talking about biology.
    Eg. ‘It only takes a drop of arsenic to kill a person.’
    This would be somewhat desperate, muddled thinking. Clearly biological processes based on the reaction of a cell are not the same as the laws of physics/thermodynamics).

  • Mike

    Base Load, people. Learn what that means. 24×7 power, many gigawatts of it, reliably, every day. Not just sunny days when the wind is blowing.

    The only competitor to fossil fuel in this arena is nuclear. All else is arithmetic denialism.

  • Nick Thielker

    Until the silent invisible zero impact energy is invented we need a lot more large scale renewable projects, vertical horizontal however. Energy produced on site, no trains, pipelines, ships involved and unlike dirty energy the site could produce into perpetuity through generations of technology without blowing up mountain tops. In the equation of environmental impact to gigawatts produced, renewables have unquestionably lower impacts. We should have had a global Manhattan Project for renewables decades ago, what should be the sentence for making your own planet less hospitable and causing historic surges in extinctions all for a few dollars more? We need to create tipping points causing unstoppable cascading common sense.