Wind Turbine Blade Concept 'Significantly' Reduces Wind Energy Cost

The design has a bent-looking blade tip, and it's there for a good reason.
Chris Young
Full-scale tip aeroelastic prototype.DTU

A group of researchers from Stanford University recently claimed that the entire world could be powered by renewable energy by 2050. While this feat is achievable, it will also require engineering innovation to continue at a rapid pace.

As a Technical University of Denmark (DTU) press release explains, a new wind turbine blade concept "has the potential to significantly reduce the yearly cost of wind energy," and in doing so, bolster global efforts to shift towards renewable energy.

The innovative design, called SmartTip, could displace "millions of tons of CO2 each year," the statement reads.

Wind Turbine Blade Concept 'Significantly' Reduces Wind Energy Cost
Scaled tip aerodynamic prototype tested in the Poul la Cour wind tunnel (DTU-Risø campus). Source: DTU

The SmartTip concept project was started in 2017 and was finalized last year. Researchers on the project found that by increasing an existing rotor size, significantly more energy could be produced per year, at the same time as "mitigating loads in a smart way."

Innovationsfonden invested approximately $1.2 million in SmartTip, which was a collaboration between DTU Wind Energy and Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy in Denmark.

'Multi-fidelity surrogate aeroelastic' optimization

For the project, novel blade tips were designed through "multi-fidelity surrogate aeroelastic model-based optimization," the researchers say.

These tests showed a potential load neutral Annual Energy Production increase of 4-6%. Tip prototypes were manufactured and tested in the Large Scale Facility, in the Poul la Cour wind tunnel, and in atmospheric rotating rig tests at DTU.

The researchers say their findings will support novel blade design business cases with potential increased export revenue in Denmark.

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Wind Turbine Blade Concept 'Significantly' Reduces Wind Energy Cost
Scaled tip aerodynamic prototype tested in the Poul la Cour wind tunnel. Source: DTU

Though precious few details have been released of the blade concept design, DTU did release some images to accompany its press release. The top image shows the full-scale tip aeroelastic prototype tested in atmospheric conditions on the rotating test rig at the Risø DTU National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy.

DTU's project is just one of many initiatives in which engineers are working to mitigate the climate crisis with new, innovative designs aimed at streamlining the shift to renewable energy.

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