Wind energy accounts for nearly approximately 10% of India’s total power generation capacity and in the last few years has seen significant growth. Even as of February 2021 India’s wind power capacity towered as the fourth largest in the world at 38.78 GW, yet still contributing to around 4% of India’s total electricity generation. This has been the contribution of the conventional use of Horizontal-Axis Wind Turbines or HAWTs in generating the current electricity in India.
To increase the share of renewable energy generation through Windpower, it is necessary to rethink how to approach the situation for maximised efficiency. Progressing on conventional lines and making the wind turbines larger might significantly lower the costs of electricity generation but it could still be slow progress. Could this actually work against higher power generation?
What we know according to the Renewable Energy journal however is that “As the wind approaches the front row of turbines, turbulence will be generated downstream. The turbulence is detrimental to the performance of the subsequent rows. In other words, the front row will convert about half the kinetic energy of the wind into electricity, whereas for the back row, that number is down to 25–30%.” This is of course highly inefficient and the only solution to this stagnation is alternative technology.
Recent advancements and evolution with new technology in the field however allow alternative solutions to this efficiency problem. Here are a few innovations to look out for:
Vertical-axis Wind Turbines – The first solution comes in the form of VAWTs. Rather than depend on HAWTs installed in isolation, replacing them with these turbines can increase the power generation by approximately 15%. The greatest advantage these wind turbines provide is that they can be installed relatively near each other. Placing a second VAWT turbine three times the diameter away at a sixty-degree angle to the wind direction can see the power output increase by even 3%. Efficiency is more than technology, and energy management requires techniques as seen by this.
Diffuser-augmented Wind Turbines – The second solution comes in the form of DAWTs or Wind Lens turbines. These are essentially HAWTs that implement diffuser type wind funnels. They work by collecting and concentrating the wind force to keep up efficiency. Currently, the development of these types of turbines is going on in Japan and successfully generating 100 KW of power.
Vortex-induced Vibration Resonant Wind Generator – This innovative power generator is a departure from the usual blade-based power generation. It completely foregoes the use of blades and utilises a phenomenon of vorticity called vortex shedding. This innovative technology consists of a cylinder fixed vertically with an elastic rod. According to the Spanish startup responsible for this development, “The cylinder oscillates on a wind range, which then generates electricity through an alternator system. As the wind passes through a blunt body, the flow is modified and generates a cyclical pattern of vortices.” With the frequency of these forces on the same level of the cylinder’s structural frequency, it starts to oscillate and enters in resonance with the wind, thus generating power. This vortex-induced vibration could revolutionize the wind energy sector.
Many other innovations and concepts are being worked out involving existing infrastructure and new ideas such as tethered and floating wind energy turbines. Changes will keep on improving the current scenario and could help our renewable energy production climb significantly. Green energy is the future and even though we will see our reliance on conventional energy for a long while, we can rest knowing significant improvements are being made for a greener tomorrow.