Offshore Vertical-Axis Wind Turbines Get a Closer Look

Offshore vertical axis wind turbines (VAWTs) could help to solve some of the problems of generating energy from offshore breezes, according to researchers from Sandia National Laboratory.

Though VAWTs have been around since the beginning of wind energy research at Sandia and other research centers, after a closer look, researchers think that VAWT architecture could transform offshore wind technology.

“The economics of offshore windpower are different from land-based turbines, due to installation and operational challenges. VAWTs offer three big advantages that could reduce the cost of wind energy: a lower turbine center of gravity; reduced machine complexity; and better scalability to very large sizes.”

The lower center of gravity means that there is improved stability and lower gravitational fatigue loads. Another significant advantage is that the drivetrain on a VAWT is at or near the surface — maintenance will likely be much easier and less time-consuming as a result. “Fewer parts, lower fatigue loads and simpler maintenance all lead to reduced maintenance costs.”

“VAWTs are elegant in terms of their mechanical simplicity,” said Josh Paquette, one of Sandia’s two principal investigators on the project. “They have fewer parts because they don’t need a control system to point them toward the blowing wind to generate power.”

You can read more about this research from Sandia on Page 2.

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