Past Present and Future
And it was surely the case also that only machines built to so large a scale and of such pristine alloys could bridge the span between heaven and earth— Mike McCormack
A lot of time has passed since the times of using wood and cloth to power our wind turbines, and since then, we’ve come a long way. We have turbines of all different shapes and sizes, each with their own specific strengths. When it comes to onshore wind farms we have two different designs, a horizontal powered axis, and a vertical powered axis.
Vertical powered axis turbines are much rarer these days, with most of the world opting for the offshore horizontal versions, most of the world except for Denmark it seems, who boasted a whopping 43.4% of power in 2017 purely from their onshore vertical turbines. It’s a good way of creating energy, the vertical turbines are built with each blade pre-aligned to any changing wind pattern, completely taking away need for adjustment, they are much lower down to the ground as well, so why are these not the standard when it comes to wind farms?
To put it simply, they are not efficient enough. Granted they are lower down to the ground, making maintenance much easier, but this takes away from their ability to harness the wind, making them sub par in creating power. They also have considerably bigger footprints than their horizontal counterparts. A bigger footprint less land, and unhappy landowners, not a good combination. Mix that with the ability to upset wildlife and livestock, on top of being an eyesore, the vertical powered axis turbine is by no means our first choice in turbines.
Horizontal axis powered turbines are the much more familiar ones, with way more advantages, the main one being they are capable of working offshore, which is the most efficient place to have a wind farm. No people or animals to bother, the parts are easily transported by ship, and its well away from peoples vision, out of sight out of mind as they say. The blades and motors are also much higher up, meaning they can harness much more wind.
Offshore wind farming is by far the most efficient, with one of the only negatives being the startup cost, which will fade as the technology advances. And as we have seen already, the technology does advance, and fast! Who knows what the future of wind farming will hold?