Project NOVA (Novel Offshore Vertical Axis), to which QinetiQ is a key technology supplier, is one of four innovative projects aimed at supporting the achievement of the UK’s challenging targets for the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The projects were given the go ahead on 13th January 2009 by Lord Hunt, Minister for Sustainable Development and Energy Innovation, as part of a potential £1.1billion fund.
Approximately £20 million of Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) funding was made available to fund concept development and assess the feasibility of the four projects during the initial project phase, the ultimate aim of which is to provide the public with more affordable, clean electricity.
Project NOVA’s unique aerogenerator wind turbine solution is based on a pair of giant V shaped composite wings that will be scaled up to 120 metres high and rotate around its central axis to create power. Invented by David Sharpe and developed by Wind Power Limited, the aim is for a large scale demonstrator to be installed offshore within six years and for offshore vertical axis turbines to provide 1 GW of power by 2020.
“QinetiQ’s role in modelling aerodynamics is a key part of the project as it will provide the main profile data on which the rest of the solution will be based,” stated Neville Salkeld, MD for QinetiQ’s consulting business. “As the project develops we also anticipate providing additional expertise in a variety of technological areas including specialist materials and turbine performance optimisation.”
Offshore vertical axis wind turbines offer the potential for a breakthrough in offshore wind energy availability and reduced life-cycle costs due to their inherent design characteristics of few moving parts, insensitivity to wind direction, and the siting of the generator at base level potentially allowing large-scale direct drive. Their relatively low centre of gravity and overturning moments (in the case of NOVA’s Aerogenerator) make the turbines highly suitable for offshore installation. In addition, they are potentially ‘radar friendly’ compared to existing horizontal axis wind turbine technology.
A totally UK-based consortium has been put together by Wind Power Limited that includes world leading research and development groups from Cranfield, Sheffield and Strathclyde Universities and private technology solutions provider QinetiQ to model and optimise the aerodynamic performance. The project is being managed and led by Guildford based OTM Consulting, the offshore energy specialists with many years experience of developing joint industry projects. The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture (CEFAS) will look after environmental impact issues consult with industry market leaders James Ingram Associates who will provide offshore wind farm development know how and experience.
The NOVA project will follow a well-structured three-phase approach over a six-year period, starting with concept selection and feasibility (15 months), followed by subsystem development, testing and detailed design (24 months), and finally offshore demonstrator construction, installation and test (36 months). The project will in the first phase develop relationships with other organisations with a view to their participation in future phases. This will include a potential systems integrator, component manufacturers and suppliers.