May 17, 2020

Japanese Breakthrough in Wind Turbine Design

energy digital
wind lens
wind turbine rim
Wind Energy
Admin
4 min
A revolutionary design to triple the output of wind turbines and compete with nuclear energy
In light of recent events, Japan has been urged to pay more attention to renewable energy sources. Coincidently, in the same month as one of the worl...

 

 

In light of recent events, Japan has been urged to pay more attention to renewable energy sources. Coincidently, in the same month as one of the world's worst nuclear crises devastated Fukushima, an incredibly innovative wind turbine system revealed itself on Kyushu University's campus for field testing. With a promise to generate two to three times the power of traditional models, the new turbine designs exemplify the potential for a cleaner energy future in Japan and around the world, removed from the dangers of nuclear power plants.

While energy from wind turbines currently accounts for less than one percent of total power generated in Japan, the new breakthrough in design provides ample reason to ramp up production. Called the 'Windlens,' Yuji Ohya, a professor of renewable energy dynamics and applied mechanics, and his team at Kyushu University have created a series of turbines that could make the cost of wind power less than coal and nuclear energy.

The two major concerning issues with traditional turbines have been their general inefficiency and intolerable noise. However, Kyushu's researchers found that attaching an inward curving ring around the perimeter of a turbine's blades increases the focus of airflow faster through the blade zones at two to three times the speed as before. An improvement in safety from covering the outer edges of the blades and a reduction of the dreaded noise pollution of older models is just a bonus.

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To take advantage of Japan's coastal wind power potential, the Kyushu team has also designed a hexagonal-shaped base for the turbines that would be low in cost, but still strong enough to endure marine conditions. In addition to overall structural improvement of the traditional turbines, the bases would also make it easier to link other turbines at sea together and enlarge platforms.

Hakata-bay off-shore wind farm.jpg

“I believe that offshore 'wind lens' turbines will become a reliable source of energy if safety is ensured and the cost is cut to float them stably on vast sea surfaces,” said Prof. Yusaku Kyozuka on the research team at Kyushu University.

Can others in the industry easily adopt a similar design to make older turbines more efficient?

Although the 'wind lens' appears simple, it consists of complex technological planning and extensive field testing. Poorly engineered models that have failed in the past have left a bad impression on many users and policy makers, hurting the image of the entire industry, according to Chris Takashi Matsuuar, a collaborator working in the UK to promote the Windlens globally.

"Therefore, we will develop a whole turbine system of our own, including not only the lens shroud, but also the blades, generator, controller, etc.," he said. "The best way [to move forward] is to replace old turbines as a whole with our new smart Windlens system."

What is the current stage of testing?

Several types of turbines have been designed with different power ratings and many are still undergoing testing. As of March this year, two units of turbines with a capacity of 70 to 100 KW (blade diameter of 12.8) have been installed on campus at Kyushu University for field testing.

The more widely used, smaller units with a capacity of 3 to 5 KW (blade diameter of 2.5 meters) have been picked up by some industrial users and installed in many locations, including the Gansu Province of China for a desert irrigation project and several coastal areas in Fukuoka City, Japan. The floating Windlens systems have been tested in a water tank at an in-house laboratory at the University, but actual field test installations for the first marine turbines are almost ready and should take place sometime this month, Matsuuar hopes.

Hexagonic bases are designed to be cost efficient, durable and easy to maneuver.jpg

However, field tests take time and it could be several months to two years before the Windlens makes a significant impact on Japan's energy system. The good news is the "Windlens has already attracted great expectations globally and will make a huge, real impact for the power generation in not only Japan, but also in the U.K., E.U., U.S., Canada and other parts of the world, as soon as the field test gives good results on the designed performance and safety," said Matsuuar.

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Apr 20, 2021

Amazon's renewable energy projects surpass 200 milestone

Amazon
Renewables
Solar
Netzero
Dominic Ellis
2 min
Nine new projects announced today takes Amazon's renewables portfolio beyond 200 projects

Amazon claims it is now Europe's largest corporate buyer of renewable energy as its projects surpassed 200 globally.

Broken down, it has 136 solar rooftops on facilities and stores and 71 utility-scale wind and solar projects, nine of which were announced today covering the US, Canada, Spain, Sweden and UK. They include:

First solar project paired with energy storage Based in California’s Imperial Valley, Amazon’s first solar project paired with energy storage allows the company to align solar generation with the greatest demand. The project generates 100MW of solar energy, and includes 70MW storage.

First renewable project in Canada An 80 MW solar project in the County of Newell in Alberta. Once complete, it will produce over 195,000MWh of renewable energy to the grid.

Largest corporate renewable energy project in the UK Amazon’s newest project in the UK is a 350MW wind farm off the coast of Scotland and is Amazon’s largest in the country. It is also the largest corporate renewable energy deal announced by any company in the UK to date.

New projects in the US Amazon’s first renewable energy project in Oklahoma is a 118 MW wind project located in Murray County. Amazon is also building new solar projects in Ohio’s Allen, Auglaize, and Licking counties. Together, these Ohio projects will account for more than 400MW of new energy procurement in the state.

Additional investments in Spain and Sweden In Spain, Amazon’s newest solar projects are located in Extremadura and Andalucia, and together add more than 170 MW to the grid. Amazon’s newest project in Sweden is a 258 MW onshore wind project located in Northern Sweden.

It now has more than 2.5 GW of renewable energy capacity, enough to power more than two million European homes a year, and aims to power all its activities with renewables by 2025 and net zero by 2040.

Amazon and Global Optimism co-founded The Climate Pledge in 2019, a commit ment to reach the Paris Agreement 10 years early and be net-zero carbon by 2040. The pledge now has 53 signatories, including IBM, Unilever, Verizon, Siemens, Microsoft, and Best Buy.

A map of all of Amazon’s renewable energy projects around the world can be found here.

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