Vertical wind turbines could make wind farms more efficient

Research carried out by Oxford Brookes University has found that vertical turbine designs could make large wind farms more effective. In the study, the researchers compared traditional wind turbines to vertical turbines to determine the effectiveness of alignment. They found that the vertical turbines were more efficient, improving each other’s performance by up to 15%.

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The team, led by professor Iakovos Tzanakis of the School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics at Oxford Brookes University, used 11,500 hours of advanced computer modeling to arrive at the conclusion. Traditionally, turbines take the form of Horizontal Axis Wind Turbines (HAWTs). However, the research now proposes that Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (VAWTs) — which are more compact in design — boost efficiency.

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If wind farms were to adopt VAWTs, it would mean that turbines would run around an axis that is vertical to the ground. Such a turbine would exhibit the exact opposite behavior of a traditional turbine. 

These findings are vital for many countries, including the U.K., with targets of attaining net-zero emissions by 2050. Wind power will play a key role in the future by providing a reliable alternative to fossil fuels.

“This study evidences that the future of wind farms should be vertical,” Tzanakis said. “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.”

This study is the first to analyze turbine performance based on array angle, turbine spacing, number of rotors and direction of rotation. The findings come at an opportune time, when the world urgently needs to increase its green energy production. The latest Global Wind Report shows that the world has to increase its wind power installation three-fold in the next decade to attain critical net-zero targets.

+ Oxford Brookes University

Image via Oxford Brookes University

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