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“Game changer” 11MW twin rotor turbine under development in US

Airgenesis turbine will be 80 per cent more efficient and capable of generating three times the MW production of current land technology, claims developer

Airgenesis LLC says its turbine will achieve capacity factors much greater than all conventional designs

A twin rotor 11MW turbine is being developed in the US that is set to become a "game changer" for the wind industry. The Airgenesis turbine, which is being developed by US firm Airgenesis LLC, will be 80 per cent more efficient than current wind technology, the company has claimed.

The wind turbine consists of two rotors of equal diameters at a 30° offset, with a blade length of 48.8m (160ft). The design means the turbine can achieve capacity factors much greater than all conventional designs, according to Airgenesis LLC. This includes generating three times the MW production of current land technology at wind speeds outside current recognised thresholds.

Inventor Danny J. "Skip" Smith of Wheatland, Wyoming has invested nine years in perfecting Airgenesis' technology.

He said: "This is going to be a game changer for the wind energy industry. It may very well make other wind energy turbines obsolete in comparison."

Low cost, great efficiency

The turbine's configuration is capable of producing an unprecedented 11MW per tower at an elevation of 1,530m (5,000ft) at wind speeds of 16.5m/s (37 mph). In addition, the structure can begin to produce electrical energy at wind velocities of 3m/s (7 mph).

Airgenesis LLC said the design offers a "vastly-improved apparatus, enabling turbines to harness the power of the wind at lower cost and greater efficiency." Reports also suggest that the turbine's wind energy output could be increased to 16MW if blades larger than the planned 48m blade are used.

Airgenesis LLC said other advantageous characteristics of the turbines include excellent performance at both low and high wind speeds. This results in very low production cost per MW (USD 750,000 per MW versus over USD 1.2m per MW) making wind power economically viable in lower wind resource regions.

Minimal maintenance

Most of the heavy equipment is mounted at the base of the turbine, which aims to significantly reduce maintenance costs. Designed for maximum efficiency and ease of minimal maintenance, all of the turbine's 12 generators are located at ground level. The vertical drive shaft maintains vibration-free operation due to its low rpm (revolutions per minute) and carrier bearings.

The turbine uses a large shaft to transmit power down the tower to the generators arranged in a circle at the tower base. The twelve generators, two 500kW units and 10 rated for 1MW each, allow the turbine to begin generating power in usually unproductive 3m/s winds.

The design was completed in 2012 and developments are now edging closer to the turbine becoming a physical prototype. Airgenesis LLC has also announced the twin rotor design has received additional power curve validation. The power curve data was created and validated by aeronautical engineering software firm DARcorporation in Kansas.