Monday, July 25, 2011

Smaller Better Wind Farms


A Different Approach to 
Farming the Wind

Most current types of wind farm utilise horizontal-axis wind turbines. These turbines need a lot of space to operate in because of wind turbulence etc. - the spacing between the towers has to be very large indeed.

This means that turbines have to be made larger and taller and built in high places in order to catch more of the wind. All this adds to the cost and it impacts heavily on the visual landscape.

The New  Approach

This very clever study has looked at other ways of harvesting the wind. It used a 100% physical and practical study -  rather than a load of old computer generated figures. The ideas, like most great ideas, are very simple.

The experiment worked with various configurations of a “matrix” of counter-rotating Vertical Axis Wind Turbines. The idea uses the turbine created turbulence or vortexes to advantage.

In the experiment, they measured the various parameters including the most important one - how much power the configuration could collect - and do you know what??  They found a configuration that returned twice as much power per acre as with the Horizontal Axis Turbines.

Installation costs could be substantially reduced because these vertical turbines did not need to be massive and vastly expensive giants.

Test Wind-Farm with 10 meter turbines 
100M mark shows current typical size turbines

An additional advantage was the visual impact was very greatly reduced. So half the land needed - half the installation costs -  and twice the generated power sound good?

 Prof. John O. Dabiri

The guy with the brains and the drive is John O. Dabiri Graduate Aeronautical Laboratories and Bioengineering, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91125, USA. (I suspect that might just be John in the bottom right corner of the top photo above)

Thank you Professor Dabiri - this looks like really promising work - good luck with the development stages.

Here is the link to the original publication:


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