It’s a Wind Turbine, but If It Was a Violin, It Would Be a Stradivarius
A New Era For Wind Power in the UK
A Stradivarius is known for its exceptional qualities as a musical instrument, an iconic name with an unrivalled reputation. X-Wind pride themselves in their quality engineering, reliability and aerodynamic performance. It’s a wind turbine but much, much quieter than a Stradivarius.
Did you know, that according to The Economist, on current trends renewables would make up 20% of global energy supply by 2030?
The wind power sector continues to grow rapidly with opportunities for new entrants to develop technology that addresses both existing and new markets. In 2014 in the UK renewables generated a whopping 19% of the total electricity generation- 53.7TWh (Source Department of Energy and Climate Change), still leaving the UK dependant on huge fuel imports for 47% of electricity generation or 198 million tonnes of oil equivalent.
Growth and innovation in the wind energy sector is constantly driving the cost of energy down, with onshore wind predicted to be the cheapest source of electricity within five years (Onshore Wind Cost Reduction Taskforce, 2015). One of the companies at the forefront of new wind technology is X-Wind Power, UK based designers and manufacturers of new revolutionary medium scale vertical-axis wind turbine. Over the past 3 years, the technology has been endorsed by Innovate UK, The Department of Energy & Climate Change, Carbon Limiting Technologies and Mott MacDonald.
What Makes the XW-80 Turbine Unique?
X-Wind is unique in the market, allowing land-owners the opportunity to develop sites which were previously thought as too difficult for a wind project. Some unique features of the XW-80 include:
- Very quiet operation due to unique design features. ½ to ¼ of the sound level of equivalent traditional turbines. This is primarily due to lower rotational speeds and hence lower tip speeds, which is where the majority of turbine noise is generated.
- Reduced visual impact. The rotor has a low solidity, is designed to be much more aesthetic and more accepted by local communities.
- Small installed footprint. Its vertical axis design results in a footprint of only 103m². This is typically 1/3 of the area of equivalent traditional turbines and makes it ideal for smaller and hard to access sites.
- Increased reliability. It only has one moving part, no gearbox and no yawing mechanism. This means less components to maintain and therefore reduced overall maintenance costs.
- Lower effect on radar systems. Traditional turbines pitch/yaw their blades in order to face the wind. This makes radar filtering more difficult as the turbine disappears and reappears on the radar screen. The XW-80 can harness wind power from all directions, it has no requirement to pitch/yaw and therefore is easier to permanently filter out of radar systems.
- Easier planning. Low noise output, reduced visual impact, compact design, low radar impact and anecdotal evidence suggesting this design is more visible to birdlife.
Integration with Solar Power Systems
Wind turbines and solar PV complement each other extremely well as their output is usually produced at different times of the day and at differing times of the year. Wind energy daily peaks are at sunrise and sunset (due to the thermal effect of land cooling) and during Autumn, Winter and Spring months, while solar PV peaks during the middle of the day during the summer. This allows for the two technologies to be connected jointly into a single connection point, without the need to upgrade the supply, capitalising on existing infrastructure with no requirement for grid upgrades.
An XW-80 is perfectly suited for integration with solar energy technology, due to
- Controllable output: The XW-80 turbine can receive a signal from the solar farm (at point of connection to grid) and inject energy up to the available capacity on the grid.
- Maximise land value: No additional rents for the land used by the XW-80’s. The XW-80 tower has an on-ground footprint of only 5m2 and an over-sailing footprint of only 103m2. This means that even on compact sites space can be found for XW-80 installations.
- Utilise existing infrastructure: As an existing grid connection is already available, the addition of XW-80 turbines (up to the grid capacity) will incur no additional grid costs.
- Easier planning: There will still be a requirement to address planning, however the land has already been established as a location suitable for the generation of renewable energy and many environmental concerns will have been examined, understood and addressed.
X-Wind was formed on the Isle of White in late 2010 by ex-Formula 1 designer Michael Blaize. X-Wind moved to Discovery Park in Kent in January 2014 and now has a growing team of 20 people. The team has recently finished the design of the XW-80 to be used on site to power businesses, communities and infrastructure. Since 2013, X-Wind has won 5 grant awards and a regional growth fund loan, equating to over £1.3 million of funding. X-Wind now has a substantial and growing number of project opportunities across the UK, with the first installation due around September 2015.