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CANADIAN ELECTRICITY FORUM, New Supply Options In Alberta's Changing Electricity Marketplace Forum, EDMONTON, ALBERTA (October 30 - 31, 2000)
Alfred L. Weisbrich, PE, President, ENECO
Gunther J. Weisbrich (Speaker), Vice President, ENECO
Use "Slide Show" section to see "Figures"

Steady development of wind power technology and the accumulation of extensive operating experience with large clusters of electric utility connected turbines have resulted in the emergence of wind power as a viable and attractive source of electricity for utilities, particularly in developing nations. A highly effective modular wind power technology, the Wind Amplified Rotor Platforms (WARPTM) System technology and design utilizes many identical vertically integrated Toroidal Accelerator Rotor Platform (TARPTM) WindframeTM building block modules. The utilization of standard micro-wind turbines forms the basis for mass customization (capacity and configuration) in the WARP design and construction. WARP wind power brings the fundamentals of mass production as well as economies of scale to power plant design and construction. It can blend well with progressive engineering & construction (E&C) firm approaches, which are predicated on a family of standardized designs to reduce cost, improve schedule and quality of units deployed. Since electricity has become the New World commodity with an emphasis on low-cost, high-quality and environmentally responsible energy, WARP™ systems designs have been proposed to meet these objectives through WARP™'s inherent efficiency, mass customization and mass production features. Not only can WARP be designed for electric utility scale wind farms (both onshore as well as in any water depth offshore), but also be employed in dual-use service as a transmission/power tower in the transmission of electricity, used as an electrical power source on telecom/microwave towers and a power source for high-rise buildings (deployed on their roof tops). WARP system's ability to integrally operate with photovoltaic solar cells, gas turbines or fuel cells, provides the added opportunity to generate base load power in an environmentally responsible manner.

The Worldwatch Institute has issued a fact stating that the wind turbine industry is growing faster (about 39% annually) than the personal computer industry and almost as fast as the cellular phone market. Wind energy has become the most economic and environmentally benign source of energy from the existing renewable energy technologies. It has the ability to be used as an electrical power supplier from the electrical utility scale (wind farms) to a single-use power supplier. The evolution of wind power as an energy source (Figure 1) is illustrated by the Old Dutch windmill, the West Texas water well, present day large bladed wind systems (to be referred to as "POP" -- propeller-on-pole) and the 4th generation in wind energy technology -- WARP™ (Wind Amplified Rotor Platform). Present day wind energy technology (POPs) have continued to evolved through the use of ever larger and larger blades and gearboxes or large, complex customized generators. This continuous increase in size has subsequently increased the costs and complexity of manufacturing, transporting, constructing and maintaining these systems. As with any system, the more complex it is, the greater the chance for system failures (e.g. historically blade and gearbox failures).

The general public has recently voiced concerns regarding the use of POPs. In the forefront of their concerns are the large footprints that wind farms employ (i.e. land sprawl of thousands of acres), the low frequency noise pollution, horizon pollution with its disco effect and the "flicker" interference with TV and telecom transmission, as well as the perception that they are prone to be bird killers. These drawbacks are in addition to the fact that they are only capable of capturing the winds near the surface (that is why they have, in part, gone to taller towers and larger blades -- attempting to reach the greater wind speeds at higher elevations). Finally, the turbine industry has built only about 20,000 turbines, yet no standardization has been achieved. Each larger blade design requires the industry to basically engineer and design it from scratch. Each wind site with its unique characteristics requires another round of re-engineering and design or compromise performance. These changes also required extensive retooling at great cost to the industry. The larger the blades, the larger the gearbox typically required. Each increase in size subsequently increased the risks of blade and gearbox failures - increasing the risk of reliability, durability and subsequently the life of the system.

The WARP™ system is a 4th generation in wind energy technology. The patented design is able to eliminate and/or minimize the many drawbacks to today's wind energy systems, with a modular, repetitive, mass customization design that allows the economies of mass production to be attained. Estimated cost of energy is US$0.02 to US$0.04 per kilowatt-hour (US$400 to US$600 per Kilowatt capital cost). The WARP™ wind energy technology will therefore allow wind energy to play a more active and significant role in the electrical industry. The flexibility in the WARP™ design allows it not only to be used in electrical generation but also in electrical transmission, telecom/microwave application and many other multitasking applications. Furthermore, unlike the restrictive technology expertise required to build large bladed wind turbines, WARP™ will allow any competent system engineering firm, such as ECP firms and others, to develop the technology for their own unique product or end-use needs. This results from its ability to use available very small diameter, capacity tailored conventional wind turbines having a 100 years of technology knowledge base.

Figure 2 is a three dimensional picture of a WARP™ wind system model. It consists of a stacked array of windframe modules on which four wind turbines (two at each level 180 degrees apart) are mounted on every other module (Figures 3 and 4). Modules with the attached turbines are defined to be the "active yaw modules" while the modules without turbines are defined as "static modules". These modules can then be alternately stacked to any height (Figure 5). The dimensions of these rotors can be any size. Application requirements and local economics influence these details. To attain the most economic and greatest benefits from the WARP™ concept, the system is designed to be tall and to use small, robust, high reliability/durability turbines that are typically intended to be 2 meter (~6 feet) or 3 meter (~10 feet) in diameter. These small turbines have direct drive capabilities (therefore NO gearbox is required - eliminating a major cost and failure potential of the large bladed wind systems on the market today). Such small propeller size units have a history of hundreds of millions of hours of durability and reliability established from the aircraft/airline industry. The height of a module is typically 1.66 times the rotor diameter (d), and the "waist" diameter (D) to the rotor diameter (d) of the module should have a d/D ratio of about 0.42 (10 ft diameter rotor/~24 ft waist diameter). The maximum or "hip" diameter will be about D + 2d (waist diameter plus 2 rotor diameters) (Figure 6). These modules are then attached (alternating an active module and static module) to a simple lattice tower. Simple off-the-shelf components can comprise the elements of the WARP™ wind power system (Figure 7).


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