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ETI shows viability of vertical axis offshore wind turbines

Vertical axis offshore wind turbines could provide an alternative to conventional horizontal turbine designs, according to the Energy Technologies Institute.

By Isabella Kaminski

The Energy Technologies Institute’s (ETI) £2.8 million Nova project has been examining the technical, economic and environmental feasibility of Wind Power Ltd’s Aerogenerator concept, which uses vertical axis technology, and has highlighted potential advantages over conventional horizontal offshore wind turbines.

Nova is a UK-based consortium of Wind Power Ltd, OTM Consulting, Cranfield University, University of Strathclyde, Sheffield University, James Ingram & Associates, the Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) and QinetiQ.

The focus of Nova, which was launched in January 2009, is on achieving significant cost reductions. The study has been examining whether vertical axis offshore 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 offshore wind turbines.

Dr David Clarke, Chief Executive of ETI, says: “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.

“The study looked at both fixed and floating structures and concluded that floating turbines could be placed in deep water areas of over 60 m 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."

Theodore Bird, Wind Power’s founder, says: “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."

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