A Norwegian company wants to help Norway reach its goal of harnessing 30,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2040 with its new vertical turbines. World Wide Wind claims it has developed a turbine with a maximum output of 40 megawatts. It is almost triple the 15 megawatts of what is currently the largest turbine.
When we think of wind farms, most of us picture towering horizontal axis wind turbines (HAWT), with their three ginormous blades spinning from a horizontal axis. But a vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT) is aligned with blades that rotate perpendicular to the ground (or ocean) and look more like tree branches. Both types of turbines have been around for a while. But until now, the HAWT have worked better than the VAWT.
According to an article on the Energy Follower website that was last updated in June 2021, “It is not possible to build VAWTs at the large scales we see in HAWT wind farms.”
The article goes on to describe a 360-feet high VAWT in Quebec, Canada, once the world’s tallest, whose rotor bearing failed in 1993 and was never repaired. “It has been non-operational since then, and is now a curiosity for tourists. It is highly unlikely anyone will try to build a VAWT bigger than this due to the engineering problems associated with directly supporting such heavy weights on a single bearing.”
The same month that naysayers at Energy Follower were updating their anti-VAWT article, World Wide Wind Founder Stian Valentin Knutsen contemplated affixing two sets of rotor blades on a single turbine mast. He wanted to engineer them to rotate in opposite directions. Knutsen partnered with electrical engineering professor Hans Bernhoff from Sweden’s Uppsala University to develop this idea.
The resulting windmill won’t stand poker-straight like a HAWT. Instead, it will lean, absorbing wind energy from every conceivable angle. And it could attain a height of 1,312 feet and generate 40 megawatts. It would be much larger than China’s 793-foot specimen, the current winner in the biggest turbine contest.
For now, it’s theoretical. World Wide Wind has conducted many simulations, but a full-scale prototype is yet to come. If the Norwegian startup is successful, Norway may soon be harnessing a hell of a lot of wind.
Lead image via World Wide Wind