Scientists from Oxford focused on the efficiency of wind turbines. Thousands of hours of computer simulations have shown that wind turbines with rotors with the vertical axis of rotation are much more efficient than typical, well-known to us “windmills”.
Wind turbines as we know them can go into oblivion. Scientific simulations carried out by scientists from Oxford Brookes University indicate that the design of wind turbines should be completely changed. How big is the change?
Sometimes the simplest methods turn out to be the most workable. The wind is the cleanest, cheapest and always available source of energy that can be converted into electricity. Scientists have conducted studies in which it can be obtained from the wind even more. Simply…by positioning the turbines vertically.
Until now, we associated wind power plants with large horizontal turbines powered by powerful rotors usually consisting of three blades. However, research indicates that vertical turbines may be more efficient.
How does a vertical turbine differ from a horizontal one?
Before we answer this question, let’s explain the difference between horizontal and vertical turbines. Their orientation is determined in relation to the axis of the rotor. Horizontal turbines are those that we know from Polish farm winds: a high pole, with a spinning windmill on its side. Vertical turbines, in turn, are those that in terms of rotation axis resemble helicopter rotors. In the case of a wind farm, such a turbine is placed on top of the pole.
Typical wind farms consist of multiple turbines standing at a short distance from each other. Their weakness, however, lies in the fact that when the wind blows, only those turbines that the wind hits first work most efficiently. Calculations indicate that such turbines can convert about 50 per cent of wind into electricity. However, when the wind passes between the rotor blades, its flow will be disturbed by them, and thus the kinetic energy will decrease. Therefore, all subsequent turbines on a given farm will generate much less energy.
And then the computer simulations come in, all in white.
Researchers at Oxford Brookes University set out to see if there is a version of wind turbines that will be able to manage the wind stream more efficiently so that further turbines also generate more electricity. More than 11,000 hours of computer simulations have established that wind turbines with rotors whose axis of rotation is vertically positioned are much more efficient than typical “windmills”.
When the simulation set the turbines of the new type in pairs, they mutually increased their efficiency in generating electricity by 15 percent. Engineers point out that turbines of this type can be placed much closer to each other, thanks to which their efficiency will increase instead of decreasing, as is currently the case. Higher efficiency means lower electricity costs.
The researchers argue that the results of their simulations may prove to be extremely important in the process of transition of the whole world to renewable energy sources. The recently published Global Wind Report 2021 indicates that to meet the objectives of the current treaties and avoid irreversible climate change, wind farms should be installed in the world three times faster than at present. If it is possible to create denser and more efficient wind farms, the goal will be at least a little closer to us.