Editor’s note: This introduction to vortex generators comes from a paper by UpWind Solutions with support from Smart Blade GmbH.
Vortex Generators (VGs) have been a hot topic over the past several years in the wind industry and after extensive testing, fine tuning, and more testing, solid results are finally in. The results prove the importance of durable materials, reliable installation processes, customized VG placement, suitable wind regime on the site, and meticulous data analysis to accurately project and measure results. It is nearly impossible to precisely forecast wind turbine performance with VGs but based on current and historical data, and analysis based on a comprehensive methodology, we can achieve a confident forecast that can be used to generate a projected ROI for the owner. ( Depending on the wealth of historical data, data resolution, condition of sensors and other variables, the performance estimation and therefore the ROI model accuracy does vary.)
After more than a year of experience and data from approximately 22,000 individual installations, what have we learned? We know how to accurately measure and project the AEP increase, which for the site data examined in this case resulted in a 2.2% site wide improvement. In this eBook, we review five lessons learned that affect the customer and help improve the VG solution:
1. Actual AEP increase from VG installation
2. VG ROI analysis
3. Importance of accurate data analysis
4. Improving installation process
5. Improving VG lifetime
UpWind Solutions partnered with SMART BLADE, the wind industry aerodynamics experts, and 3M to deliver the best-in-class Vortex Generator for wind turbine rotor blades. The expertise of the three organizations combined created a new VG solution that is aerodynamically tested to provide the highest possible increase in AEP, with proven durability, and a standardized installation process that reduces installation costs and turbine downtime. The benefit to the customer is improved power production at low and mid wind speeds when the turbines are not producing at full capacity.
The flow visualization process SMART BLADE has developed is highly customized to the blade type. This allows for the recapturing of the maximum amount of power production otherwise lost to aerodynamic stall in the root region of the blade. Secondly, the materials (plastics and adhesives) used are designed for the harsh, UV rich environment of a high speed wind turbine blade.
The key to the UpWind Solutions/SMART BLADE/3M VG solution is a deep analysis of the blade aerodynamics in actual field conditions. Armed with a highly accurate map of the blade aerodynamics, a VG solution is designed specifically for that unique blade design. Unlike most other VGs available, the UpWind/SMART BLADE/3M VG Solution has the flexibility to place each individual VG in exactly the right location and orientation resulting in maximum AEP gains.
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