image of an offshore tidal turbine

Two new blade technologies from Edinburgh University researchers aim for renewable energy efficiency

EPSRC has funded a collaboration between Professor of Fluid Mechanics and Bioinspired Engineering, Ignazio Maria Viola, and Senior Lecturer in Composites Design and Testing, Eddie McCarthy, which resulted in two new technologies that are expected to reduce unsteady loading, improve turbine resilience and reliability and decrease the levelized cost of energy. 

Source: The University of Edinburgh

Viola and McCarthy developed two technologies that enable the passive morph of the blade, each aimed at increasing energy yield and reducing capital and operational costs.

The first technology is a morphing blade with a flexible trailing edge that deforms with changes in fluid load. 

The second technology is a passive pitching mechanism for rigid blades, allowing them to pitch independently in response to varying loads.

Additionally, the pitching mechanism can be retrofitted to existing turbines for greater durability, reducing wastage and the need for new materials.

“Both of these passive pitching technologies are aimed at effectively mitigating severe load surges during operation. The passive approach minimises the level of active control required, can greatly simplify the turbine control system, and thus assist in reducing operational risk and decreasing levelized cost of energy of tidal stream technology,” said McCarthy. 

These technologies can enhance the potential of tidal energy and can be applied to other turbine systems, such as wind. 

“Successful transition to net zero is multifaceted, and an important element is going to be innovations that enable renewable energy systems to maximise their impact. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh are rising to this challenge, and it’s exciting to see these two new technologies emerge which can offer commercial value for industry partners,” said Angus Stewart-Liddon, Senior Technology Transfer Manager at EI.

The importance of cooperation between academia and industry was highlighted in April 2024, when the University of Edinburgh’s Industrial Center for Doctoral Training in Offshore Renewable Energy (IDCORE) program secured £6 million (around $7.5 million) from the UK’s funding body, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), allowing the program to continue delivering education and expanding the partnership for another five years.

Related Article