With wind power adoption continuing to grow, scientists from Iowa State University have developed a new design feature that could allow turbines to harvest far more energy than conventional systems.
The researchers point out the fact that the large turbine blades disrupt the wind, creating a wake that reduces the amount of wind energy that can be harvested by downstream turbines. These wind wakes can cause a system to lose out on 8-40% of its potential energy yield. By incorporating a second rotor on the existing turbine, the researchers’ lab tests and computer simulations show that extra blades can increase wind farm energy harvests by 18% – no small figure given the maturity of wind technology.
While the results are promising, more research is needed to determine the best way to incorporate the findings into turbine production, such as the ideal placement for the second rotor, its optimal size, and the most useful type of airfoil.