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Vertical-axis wind turbines in oblique flow: sensitivity to rotor geometry

Scheurich, Frank and Brown, Richard (2011) Vertical-axis wind turbines in oblique flow: sensitivity to rotor geometry. In: EWEA Annual event (formerly known as EWEC), 2011-03-14 - 2011-03-17.

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Increasing interest is being shown worldwide in the application of vertical-axis wind turbines for decentralised electricity generation within cities. The distortion of the onset air flow by buildings within the urban environment might however, under certain conditions of wind speed or direction, cause vertical-axis wind turbines to operate in oblique flow – in other words in conditions in which the wind vector is non-perpendicular to the axis of rotation of the turbine. Little is known about the effect on the operation of a vertical-axis wind turbine when the wind is perturbed from supposedly optimal conditions. In the present study, the Vorticity Transport Model has been used to simulate the aerodynamic performance and wake dynamics, both in normal and in oblique flow, of three different vertical-axis wind turbines: one with a straight-bladed configuration, another with a curved-bladed configuration and another with a helically twisted configuration. The results partly confirm previous experimental measurements that suggest that a straight-bladed vertical-axis wind turbine that operates in oblique flow might produce a higher power coefficient compared to when it is operated in normal flow. The simulations suggest, however, that significantly higher power coefficients in oblique flow are obtained only at higher tip speed ratios, and indeed only if the height of the turbine is not large compared to its radius. Furthermore, it is shown that a vertical-axis wind turbine with blades that are helically twisted around its rotational axis produces a relatively steady power coefficient in both normal and oblique flow when compared to that produced by turbines with either a straight- or a curved-bladed configuration.