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

Vertical Axis Wind Turbine Farm

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


View Comments

  • 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.

    • 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?

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Oxford Brookes University

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