The world of wind energy has grown significantly since the turn of the century. One of the first wind turbine designs, and still the most common, was modeled after the windmill.
The horizontal-axis wind turbine includes a large rotor and turbine blades positioned on a tall structural pole. The turbine blades transform the wind's kinetic energy to power generators and produce usable energy.
Horizontal-axis wind turbines are installed on large land spans for maximum wind generation and turbine servicing space. The design is dominant globally and considered more eco-friendly than fossil fuels.
Still, horizontal-axis wind turbines present several challenges that engineers and researchers are actively working to mitigate.
Wildlife degradation is one leading concern. Wind turbines can interrupt bird flight paths and result in deadly collisions. Wind turbines also garner scrutiny due to noise and aesthetic pollution.
Additionally, their vast height and spatial requirements limit installation to remote locations, far from cities where energy is needed most. The power generated must travel longer distances for distribution.
A final challenge facing wind turbines, like many alternative energies, is cost. Though mainstream adoption has resulted in drastic price drops, wind turbines must ultimately compete with the cost of fossil fuel electricity to remain desirable.
To address these obstacles, engineers are considering scaling down wind turbines for installation on buildings or modifying structures for the open ocean.
The realm of offshore wind turbines is growing in popularity as it offers advantages over on-shore turbines. With a greater capacity for energy generation and less land use, offshore wind turbines can be installed near densely populated areas with nearly limitless location opportunities.
Swedish company, Hexicon, and Italy's Avapa Energy, recognizing the emergence of offshore wind power coupled with the open market in Italy, paired up in a joint venture called AvenHexicon.
Marcus Thor, Hexicon CEO, states, "An important part of our business model is to enter new and promising markets as early as possible and to establish both our project development skills and technology together with local partners. We have found a perfect partner in Avapa Energy, and with AvenHexicon, we are looking forward to supporting Italy in its expansion of fossil-free electricity production."
The concept is ultimately that of Hexicon's, which is currently working on getting the proper licensing for Italy. The patented design includes dual tilted turbines situated on a platform called TwinWind. It promises "the deployment of more turbines per sea area, increasing the energy yield per acreage and reducing the environmental impact," according to the company's website. "TwinWind also reduces the total costs of cabling, steel, installations, and maintenance."
In addition, turbines can be installed further out in the ocean than traditional offshore designs, providing less chance for obstruction and more likelihood for stable weather.
An innovative design that branches off a relatively general idea, TwinWind is one of the many advancements in wind energy on the horizon.
The European Green Deal
Many countries located in the European Union (EU) have advanced significantly in sustainable development within the last two decades - prompted by governance from the EU, cultural encouragement, local government allowance, and funding.
The European Green Deal recognizes the ongoing threat of climate change and aims to mitigate potential disasters before they occur. A few of the main goals of this deal include reaching zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, providing access to healthy and affordable food, stopping deforestation, and innovating sustainable waste management.
The European Green Deal prompted many nations to up the ante on sustainable development, resulting in an array of new designs. Developments include Italy's vow to increase offshore wind power from its current zero to produce five gigawatts by 2040.
Reports state, "Italy has 55 offshore wind farm projects of which none [are] currently operating, none where construction has progressed enough to connect the turbines and generate electricity, one [is] in the build phase, and one [is] either consented or [has] applied for consent."
Though Italy is falling behind in this realm, they've excelled in other areas of alternative energy that have, as of 2020, placed the country at number three for renewable power consumption in all of Europe. Italy was one of only a few members of the European Union that reached its 2020 goal of renewable energy implementation.
Avapa Energy and Hexicon's joint venture can help make the ranking even more impressive. Hexicon's unique concept, coupled with Avapa Energy's experience in the Italian market, makes for the perfect pairing to bring working green energy to Italy.
It's now a waiting game as the two companies seek licensing approval for installation in Italy. We anticipate more news on the venture in the coming months. With time, the new wind turbine concepts could aid Italy's goal to increase offshore wind generation and potentially assist in implementation throughout the EU.