Norwegian startup World Wide Wind (WWW) is set to test a revolutionary wind turbine design in Norway that could transform offshore wind energy production. The “counter-rotating vertical-axis turbines” have the potential to reduce costs and double wind energy generation at sea by allowing larger floating turbines to be built. This innovative design could help reduce dependence on heat-trapping gas-emitting energy sources and combat climate change.
The new design incorporates three key concepts. Firstly, the turbines are floating, meaning they are not built into the seafloor but tethered to it. This allows for the construction of wind farms in deeper-water areas, accessing more wind resources and minimizing visual disruption.
Secondly, the blades of the turbines rotate on a vertical axis rather than a horizontal one, giving them a distinct appearance similar to an upside-down stand mixer. While this is not entirely new, it is an unconventional approach to wind turbine design.
However, the most notable feature of the design is the addition of a counter-rotating turbine and blades on the same axis but rotating in the opposite direction. This unique configuration effectively doubles the relative rotation and neutralizes the torque on the system, resulting in increased power generation and lower maintenance costs.
The design also addresses other challenges faced by traditional horizontal-axis turbines. By placing heavy and high-maintenance components near the base or underwater, the turbines can be taller and have larger blades. This allows for greater energy capture and improved performance.
In addition, the design’s tilting vertical axis and blade configuration enable the turbines to capture wind from multiple directions and reduce turbulence in their wake. This allows for closer packing of turbines within wind farms, maximizing energy production.
The initial test prototype, developed in partnership with builder AF Gruppen, stands at 62 feet tall and has a 30-kilowatt production capacity. However, WWW envisions scaling up the design to reach heights of 1,312 feet and capacities of 40 megawatts, nearly double the output of current large-scale wind turbines.
A larger 1.5-megawatt prototype is scheduled for testing in 2025, with plans for a 24-megawatt version, surpassing the capacity of any existing offshore turbine, to be commercially available by 2030.
If successful, these innovative wind turbines could revolutionize offshore wind energy production, offering a more cost-effective and scalable solution to meet the world’s growing energy demands while reducing environmental impact.