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Sandia National Laboratories’ wind energy researchers are re-evaluating vertical axis wind turbines (VAWTs) to help solve some of the problems of generating energy from offshore breezes.

VAWTs offer three big advantages that could reduce the cost of wind energy: a lower turbine center of gravity; reduced machine complexity; and better scalability to very large sizes. The first phase of the program will take place over two years and will involve creating several concept designs, running those designs through modern modeling software and narrowing those design options down to a single, most-workable design. During this phase, Sandia will look at all types of aeroelastic rotor designs, including HVAWTs and V-shaped VAWTs. But the early favorite rotor type is the Darrieus design. In phase two researchers will build the chosen design over three years, eventually testing it against the extreme conditions that a turbine must endure in an offshore environment. In addition to rotor designs, the project will consider different foundation designs: Early candidates are barge designs, tension-leg platforms and spar buoys.
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