Back in 2010, there was a small furore over the Aerogenerator-X 10MW design produced in the UK that would be targeted at the country's offshore market. It was not just the size that garnered attention but the fact it was a vertical axis utilising a floating platform.
Although the Aerogenerator-X was an ambitious project, the designer Wind Power Ltd was backed by the Energy Technology Institute (ETI) and a memorandum of understanding was signed to bring in engineering company Arup to help reach fruition. At the time, the long-term objective was that the Aerogenerator series turbines would provide 1GW of UK offshore wind capacity by 2020.
However since 2010, little has been heard of the project. The Arup involvement never materialised and the biggest vertical axis turbine currently on the horizon is the Vertiwind 2MW turbine being developed in France.
Speaking to Windpower Monthly, ETI offshore programme manager Andrew Scott said the original funding for the project was to look at the viability of vertical axis and fixed and floating foundations. "The project gave good insights for the next round of projects. But it was never intended to take it further," he said. In its place, came the current decision to trial a floating foundation with Alstom's Haliade turbine. Its other wind project is to create an 80-metre segmented offshore blade.
So does the project still exist? Wind Power's founder Theo Bird insists the project is still moving towards its 2020 target although he admits he is struggling to bring in funding. If that can be supplied then "the next step is to build a small-scale generator of 30kW and from that we will make a limited land-based version and we're hoping to do that by the end of the year", he said.
Around four months after the 30kW version is built, the company will develop a 300kW version and beyond that a 1-2MW turbine. This will be onshore and at the moment there has been little work on the floating platform. All of this is dependent on funding.
Scott said the momentum was with horizontal axis (HAWT) at the moment. After the initial research "the view was HAWT would evolve at a lower cost base than vertical axis". However, the distant future and the need to build upscale could change this. "They have a lower centre of gravity and a lower turning moment. This could allow us to make bigger machines, in the 20MW bracket," he said.