Algorithm improves efficiency of small wind turbines

18 March 2014
By Tereza Pultarova
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Small wind turbines tend to be located at less favourable sites than large wind farms

Small wind turbines tend to be located at less favourable sites than large wind farms [Credit: The University of Basque Country]

A new algorithm will increase efficiency of small wind turbines by telling them how to adapt to changing conditions.

Developed by Spanish researchers, the algorithm will be able to synchronise the rotations of the wind turbines to perfectly match the wind speed. Perfect synchronisation can increase efficiency by decreasing energy consumption of the installation.

The researchers from the University of the Basque Country said they decided to focus on small wind turbines as they tend to be located at less favourable sites and are more prone to inefficiencies.

“The control systems of current wind turbines are not adaptive; in other words, the algorithms lack the capacity to adapt to new situations,” explained Iñigo Kortabarria.

“The aim of the research was to develop a new algorithm capable of adapting to new conditions or to the changes that may take place in the wind turbine,” he said.

Efficiency is one of the main concerns in the mini wind turbine industry. Unlike large wind-farms, small turbines tend to be placed rather randomly, which increases the demands placed on their ability to adapt.

To prove their point, the researchers have built a test site, allowing them not only to try their own algorithm, but also those developed previously. They believe that in most cases, those algorithms weren’t tested in suitable conditions.

“The experimental trials conducted clearly show that the capacity to adapt improves with the new algorithm and increases energy efficiency when the wind conditions are variable,” said Kortabarria.“ We have seen that in real-world  conditions, the new algorithm will be more efficient than the existing ones."

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