Distributed wind energy for urban and rural requirements, integration and energy conversion

Principal investigator: Eldad AVITAL
Co-investigator(s): Ranjan VEPA, Neil CAGNEY and Mouna CHETEHOUNA
Funding source(s): British Council
 Start: 27-03-2024  /  End: 31-03-2025
 Amount: £49,160
Illustration of an H vertical wind turbine

Wind energy represents a significant sector within renewable energy. Despite substantial advancements in the development of large-scale wind turbines capable of generating several megawatts per turbine, these solutions do not adequately address the needs of small, independent users. This gap is particularly pronounced in low and middle-income countries, where there is a critical need to replace air-polluting diesel generators while supplementing or even replacing national electricity-grid supplies. Small wind-turbines of up to 20 kW, present an excellent green energy solution for this purpose. However, significant research questions persist regarding sufficient aerodynamic efficiency, efficient energy conversion, and integration with other energy and storage systems.

To address these challenges, an academic-industrial consortium comprising Queen Mary University of London (UK), VIT Chennai (India), IIT Madras (India), and the SME Deutsche WindGuard India has been formed. This consortium aims to tackle these research questions through a tightly-integrated programme of education and research. Master's students (MEng, MSc, MTech) from both countries will undergo a structured training-programme covering advanced topics in aerodynamics, mechanics, control, electro-mechanical design, and system engineering, supplemented by hands-on training. Research and development efforts will focus on creating novel integrated wind energy designs tailored to the needs of small urban and rural users. Emphasis will be placed on wind resource analysis, turbine aerodynamic efficiency, control systems, and integration with water pumping for energy storage and irrigation.

Throughout the design process, close collaboration with industrial partners will ensure alignment with commercialization goals beyond the project's duration. The novel designs and research outcomes will be disseminated through professional international conferences and journal publications. Additionally, a dedicated workshop, press releases, and online channels will be utilized to disseminate the results to the professional community and the general public. Local events targeting the younger population will be utilised to promote enthusiasm for addressing new energy engineering challenges.