Renewable technologies are on the rise as the world shifts to a low carbon economy and attempts to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. For the United Kingdom, wind power may become a cornerstone of their energy mix, with the UK possessing the largest offshore wind capability in Europe, overtaking Denmark in 2009 to become the leading country for installed offshore wind capacity.
Currently, the dominant design for large, grid-connected wind turbines is the classic windmill–a three blade rotor with a horizontal rotating axis. However, a new design, which involves a vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT), has advantages over horizontal axis alternatives: it can capture the wind from any direction, plus the rotor equipment is located at base level, making it is simpler and less costly to install and maintain.
The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI), a UK-based company formed from global industries and the UK government has tackled several projects looking at new turbine design and concepts for offshore wind. One is the Novel Offshore Vertical Axis (NOVA) project, a UK-based consortium launched in January 2009 to look at the feasibility of a NOVA turbine.
ETI used @RISK as a scenario analysis tool to evaluate the potential reduction in greenhouse gases that could be achieved through the installation of NOVA wind turbines, compared to conventional horizontal axis wind turbines (HAWTs) for offshore power generation. After conducting Monte Carlo simulations, the study found that the increased power rating of the NOVA turbines compared to current HAWTs would provide considerable reductions in lifetime greenhouse gas emissions. More specifically, the estimated lifetime emissions were 521 kt CO2e for the conventional design and 419 kt CO2e for NOVA turbines. Thus, this new spin on turbine design may be a key part of improving global carbon emission reduction.