April 16, 2018 Read More →

Researchers Target 50-MW Wind Turbine Design

Greentech Media:

A team of researchers is working to complete the design for a novel 50 megawatt offshore wind turbine, nearly six times more powerful than a record-setting 8.8 megawatt turbine recently deployed off the coast of Scotland. Testing will begin on prototype blades this summer in Colorado.

The massive turbine marks an about-face from conventional wind turbine design. The standard wind turbine installed today is a three-bladed machine positioned with the blades facing incoming winds. The blades for the so-called Segmented Ultralight Morphing Rotor (SUMR) wind turbine would, conversely, face downwind. The “go-with-the-flow” design was inspired by palm trees, which have evolved to withstand hurricane gales. Just as palm fronds bend and yield to the direction of the wind, the segmented blades for the SUMR turbine will fold together, aligned with the wind direction, in strong winds.

“We’re trying to have the turbine blades be more aligned along the load path, so we can get away with lower structural mass and have less fatigue and less damage,” said Eric Loth in an interview. Loth is chair of the department of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of Virginia and the SUMR project lead.

The research team believes the downwind design will make it possible to deploy extreme-scale offshore wind turbines in parts of the United States, such as the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, where wind speeds can reach 200 mph during severe storms. In November 2015, a research team lead by the University of Virginia was awarded a three-year, $3.56 million grant from the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to design a 50 megawatt SUMR turbine. The team includes researchers from the University of Illinois, University of Colorado, Colorado School of Mines, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and Sandia National Laboratories.

The research team is aiming to design a 50 megawatt turbine that can reduce the levelized cost of offshore wind energy by as much as 50 percent by 2025. “We need to come up with turbines that are not necessarily more efficient but will cost less to build and maintain,” said Loth.

More: Design For 50 MW Offshore Wind Turbine Inspired By Hurricane-Resilient Palm Trees

Comments are closed.