A Norwegian team has developed a huge offshore wind turbine that it says can power a city of 80,000 homes.
However, the Windcatcher is as big in size as it is in innovation: for developer Asbjørn Nes’ design to work, the wind power generator must be longer than the Queen Elizabeth 2’s 963 feet. and taller than the Eiffel Tower, which is about a thousand feet from base to tip.
The turbines familiar to most people are horizontal axis wind turbines (HAWT), essentially massive poles with a large rotating blade attached.
Often you will see rows of these turbines “seeded” in the water.
Nes and his co-workers at Wind Catching Systems AS, Arthur Kordt and Ole Heggheim, all have experience in the oil and gas industry and thought it would be more efficient to create a huge network of nested turbines.
There is nothing special about the turbines the company wants to use, CFO Ronny Karlsen told IFLScience.
‘But innovation [part] is the design – how you put it all together in a system that is unlike anything on the market right now, ”Karlsen said, comparing them to“ oil rigs that are [fixed] at the bottom of the sea and stationary.
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The Windcatcher would be like a “wall” of traditional wind turbines, capable of going faster, taking up less space and preventing damage to wildlife. It would be higher than the Eiffel Tower or the Statue of Liberty and longer than the QE2
With the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, which attempts to To reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit the rise in global temperature to just 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial era, governments and businesses are turning to power generation with a reduced carbon footprint.
Wind turbines certainly do the trick, but they also have big drawbacks.
Offshore wind farms have high overhead costs, with specialized vessels required to reach behemoths at sea. Its estimated maintenance alone on a wind farm costs between $ 42,000 and $ 48,000 per year, according to UK data company IHS Markit.
Karlsen envisions an elevator system, “so that you can actually do all the maintenance and repairs without having these specialized offshore vessels on hand,” he told IFLScience.
Instead of the specialist vehicles currently needed to reach offshore wind turbines, the Windcatcher would have an elevator and operator more like an oil rig. According to the company’s research, “several small rotors close together … produce more power than if you were each standing individually.”
Wind turbines are also weak ENERGY? producers – spin the blades too fast and they start to pitch.
But because the Windcatcher’s individual rotors are smaller, they can spin much faster, Karlsen said, 17 or 18 meters per second, compared to the standard 12 meters per second. PLEASE PUT ON FEET ALSO, NOT JUST METERS
They actually generate more power exponentially WHAT WHAT?Karlsen told IFLS, because the turbulence they create “actually increases production.”
Tests have shown that “several small rotors close together, in short, produce more power than if you were each standing individually,” he said.
A cursor indicates the area occupied by a series of Windcatchers (right) compared to a traditional offshore wind “farm”
But with colossal blades that spin at speeds of over 200 mph, they pose a serious danger to wildlife, killing hundreds of thousands of birds and bats every year.
In the United States alone, the blades are responsible for 140,000 to 500,000 deaths, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service. CONNECT
Even at sea, birds of prey are attracted to massive structures.
They are believed to dislike crossing large bodies of open water and feel safe having a place to land on a windy day.
HOW DO WIND TURBINES WORK?
Wind turbines harness the power of the wind to spin propeller-shaped blades around a rotor connected to a main shaft, which turns a generator to generate electricity.
It is the opposite of a fan, which sucks in electricity to turn the blades and create wind.
Horizontal axis turbines usually have three blades and rotate to face the wind
Wind turbines can be installed on land, in lakes or oceans.
Larger and more powerful, offshore wind turbines are often grouped into large groups called wind farms.
There are two main types of wind turbines, according to the United States Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
The most well-known horizontal axis turbines generally have three blades and operate “upwind” with the turbine rotating at the top so that the blades can face the wind.
Vertical axis wind turbines come in different varieties, including the egg beater-style Darrieus model, and are omnidirectional – they don’t need to be adjusted to point in the wind.
The Windcatcher blades would be black, not the industry standard white, to make them more visible.
Wind Catching Systems is also studying the type of air guns deployed at airports to keep birds at bay, Karlsen said.
But it’s also a bet that even the dumbest bird wouldn’t fly in a 300-meter-high metal monstrosity.
“What we were told – and this needs to be verified – is that since it’s almost like a wall of turbines, a bird wouldn’t go through it. It would be very visible, ”he said.
“One of the problems you have with… conventional rotors is that they seem to turn slowly, but they don’t. They’re spinning really fast, so the bird thinks, ‘Oh, I can fly through here, I can’t see anything’ – and then suddenly a blade comes back. ‘
“We hope this thing is more visible to the birds, and they will think twice before they fly through,” he added. “We are looking at all the options, and if anyone has any good suggestions, we are always ready to talk about them. “
Wind Catching Systems is still in the development phase.
It received support from Innovation Norway, and in 2020 Ferd and North Energy became the company’s first external investors.
Nes, Kordt and Heggheim are currently working with engineers from the Polytechnic University of Milan on a proof of concept.
They expect to finish in the fall, which could mean a Windcatcher in production as early as next year and in the ocean by 2023 or 2024.
The Norwegian trio are not alone in trying to rethink the wind turbine: in 2018, the Dutch electricity company TenneT proposed an artificial island in the North Sea surrounded by offshore wind turbines that would supply renewable energy to up to ‘to 80 million Europeans.
The 2.3 square mile landmass, which would include an airstrip, staff quarters, green spaces and even a man-made lake, could be operational as early as 2027.
Dogger Bank, off the coast of East Yorkshire, England, has been identified as a potential site for the $ 4 billion project.
And Vortex, a Spanish company, is developing a wind turbine that does not require blades at all to produce power.
The Vortex uses the motion caused by air hitting its 10 foot pylon to generate power.
The design takes advantage of “vortex shedding,” the aerodynamic phenomenon that occurs when air strikes a solid object.
Two rings of repellent magnets are positioned at the base of a 10-foot pylon.
When the breeze pushes the pylon in one direction, one of the magnets pulls it in the other direction, giving a boost even when the wind speed is low.
The device swings back and forth, like some wacky waving inflatable tube “type” outside of a car dealership.
Unlike a traditional wind turbine, the Vortex has no gears, brakes, bearings, or shafts. It uses repellent magnets to buff a pylon back and forth, generating energy
These movements are transformed into electricity thanks to an alternator which increases their frequency.
Besides being quieter and much smaller, it could save some of the 500,000 birds killed by traditional turbines each year.
Right now, the device can only generate a small amount of power, but the developers are hoping to expand and deliver power to dozens of homes with just one device.
According to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, wind power was the second form of renewable energy in 2018 after hydropower, and it accounted for more than 5% of the world’s electricity.
The leader in wind power, surprisingly, is China, which has an installed capacity of 221 gigawatts, or more than a third of the world’s 591 GW.
It is followed by the United States and Germany, according to the Economic Times.
This year, the Biden administration gave the green light to the first offshore wind farm in US waters, off Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.