Lead Proponent: GTRenergy Ltd
Location: Oakville, Ontario and North Cape, Prince Edward Island
ecoEII Contribution: $ 600,000
Project Total: $ 1,107,243
GTRenergy Ltd., a company based in Oakville, Ontario was established in 2009 to develop and commercialize VB (Virtual Blade) wind technology. The concept is based on an innovative configuration of wind turbine blades with two rotors having a specific angular and axial offset. Early testing at the National Research Council (NRC) indicated a potential for energy production of a VB Wind turbine to exceed that of a conventional turbine by 8-12%.
Realizing the tremendous market potential, GTRenergy proposed the VB Wind Power Project for funding by ecoEII. The project would confirm whether an 8-12% increase in energy production could in fact be achieved in the field, as well as quantify and characterize other phenomena, such as the observed reduction in noise and vibration associated with VB Wind technology. EcoEII awarded GTRenergy $600,000 for the project.
The project began with the design and development of a field trial ready 5kW VB wind turbine. Features were added to the preliminary design in order to accommodate field conditions. Portions of the 5kW VB wind turbine were then assembled and underwent testing in the University of Waterloo’s wind test facility, to ensure proper operation before the field trial began. The complete VB retrofitted 5kW wind turbine was installed at the Wind Energy Institute of Canada’s Small Wind Test Bed on Prince Edward Island. Performance testing was completed by the Institute, based on the internationally recognized IEC 61400-12-1 standard. When compared with existing standardized power performance data for an unmodified 5kW turbine (of the same make and model), the difference in Annual Energy Production (AEP) associated with VB modifications amounted to an increase of 16%.
The Institute also performed sound testing on the 5kW VB turbine, based on the internationally recognized AWEA – 2009 standard (which references the IEC 61400-11 standard). The test results confirmed a 5dB(A) reduction in acoustic noise as a result of VB modifications, when compared with existing acoustic noise emissions data for an unmodified turbine. This confirmed and quantified the reduction in noise that was observed during previous wind tunnel tests.
The results are significant because reducing noise is a critical design objective for all wind turbines; and reducing acoustic noise while simultaneously increasing performance is extremely difficult to achieve, but that is indeed the case with VB wind technology.
Moreover, the initial project scope was expanded to include the preliminary design of a VB wind turbine, scaled-up to 100kW, as the true capabilities of the unique dual rotor configuration became more clearly understood. Referred to as VB 2.0, improvements were made to the original design, which enables VB modifications to be made on existing wind turbines with standard hubs, thereby precluding the requirement for a specialized VB controller hub. Nonetheless, the design of VB 2.0 is still in the preliminary stages and several additional R&D needs have been identified, and have to be addressed before final implementation.
Benefits to Canada:
This is an early stage technology development project. However, successful commercialization would benefit Canada economically through new jobs and the sale of VB components and related services, as well as environmentally through further reductions in GHG emissions.
Due to the encouraging results obtained from the 5kW VB turbine field trial, GTRenergy made the decision to proceed with completing the design, development and pilot scale testing of a scaled-up 100kW VB 2.0. This would include installing and commissioning a VB retrofitted 100kW turbine, and conducting performance and acoustic tests.