Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


A new algorithm improves the efficiency of small wind turbines


In recent years, mini wind energy has been developing in a spectacular way.

According to estimates by the WWEA-World Wind Energy Association, the level of development of the mini wind energy industry is not the same as that of the wind energy industry, although forecasts are optimistic. The main reason is that the level of efficiency of small wind turbines is low.

To address this problem, the UPV/EHU’s research group APERT (Applied Electronics Research Team) has developed an adaptative algorithm. The improvements that are applied to the control of these turbines will in fact contribute towards making them more efficient. The study has been published in the journal Renewable Energy.

Small wind turbines tend to be located in areas where wind conditions are more unfavourable. “The control systems of current wind turbines are not adaptative; in other words, the algorithms lack the capacity to adapt to new situations,” explained Iñigo Kortabarria, one of the researchers in the UPV/EHU’sAPERT research group.

That is why “the aim of the research was to develop a new algorithm capable of adapting to new conditions or to the changes that may take place in the wind turbine,” added Kortabarria. That way, the researchers have managed to increase the efficiency of wind turbines.

The speed of the wind and that of the wind turbine must be directly related if the latter is to be efficient. The same thing happens with a dancing partner. The more synchronised the rhythms of the dancers are, the more comfortable and efficient the dance is, and this can be noticed because the energy expenditure for the two partners is at a minimum level.

To put it another way, the algorithm specifies the way in which the wind turbine adapts to changes. This is what the UPV/EHU researchers have focussed on: the algorithm, the set of orders that the wind turbine will receive to adapt to wind speed.

“The new algorithm adapts to the environmental conditions and, what is more, it is more stable and does not move aimlessly. The risk that algorithms run is that of not adapting to the changes and, in the worst case scenario, that of making the wind turbine operate in very unfavourable conditions, thereby reducing its efficiency.

Efficiency is the aim

Efficiency is one of the main concerns in the mini wind turbine industry. One has to bear in mind that small wind turbines tend to be located in areas where wind conditions are more unfavourable. Large wind turbines are located in mountainous areas or on the coast; however, small ones are installed in places where the wind conditions are highly variable.

What is more, the mini wind turbine industry has few resources to devote to research and very often is unaware of the aerodynamic features of these wind turbines. All these aspects make it difficult to monitor the point of maximum power (MPPT Maximum Power Tracking) optimally.

“There has to be a direct relation between wind speed and wind turbine speed so that the monitoring of the maximum point of power is appropriate. It is important for this to be done optimally. Otherwise, energy is not produced efficiently,” explained Iñigo Kortabarria.

Most of the current algorithms have not been tested under the conditions of the wind that blows in the places where small wind turbines are located. That is why the UPV/EHU researchers have designed a test bench and have tested the algorithms that are currently being used —including the new algorithm developed in this piece of research— in the most representative conditions that could exist in the life of a wind turbine with this power.

“Current algorithms cannot adapt to changes, and therefore wind turbine efficiency is severely reduced, for example, when wind density changes," asserted Kortabarria.

“The experimental trials conducted clearly show that the capacity to adapt of the new algorithm improves energy efficiency when the wind conditions are variable,” explained Kortabarria.“ We have seen that under variable conditions, in other words, in the actual conditions of a wind turbine, the new algorithm will be more efficient than the existing ones."

Elektronika, Energia berriztagarriak, Ikerketa-zentroak, Ingeniaritza, Matematika, Unibertsitateak


The Applied Electronics Research Team APERT comprises lecturers and researchers in the Electronics Technology area of the Department of Electronics Technology. They all carry out their activities at the Faculty of Engineering in Bilbao (UPV/EHU).They have two main lines of research: the line of reconfigurable circuits and systems-on-a-chip, and the line of power control circuits for energy converters. This line is based on the use of the latest, high-capacity FPGAs to incorporate digital systems into a single integrated circuit. Furthermore, the advances achieved are applied to specific needs emerging in the other areas of research the APERT works on. The second line of research is geared towards the design and study of the behaviour of power electronics systems used in the process to generate, transform and store electrical power and its application to renewable energy sources. In addition, this second line of research is sponsored by the collaboration agreement which the APERT group has signed with the Tecnalia Research & Innovation foundation.

Internet reference


I.Kortabarria, J. Andreu, I. Martínez de Alegría, J. Jiménez, J.I. Gárate, E. Robles. “A novel adaptative maximum power point tracking algorithm for small wind turbines”. (2014) Renewable Energy 63: 785-796

Oihane Lakar | EurekAlert!

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Neutrons pave the way to accelerated production of lithium-ion cells
20.03.2018 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Monocrystalline silicon thin film for cost-cutting solar cells with 10-times faster growth rate fabricated
16.03.2018 | Tokyo Institute of Technology

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Modular safety concept increases flexibility in plant conversion

22.03.2018 | Trade Fair News

New interactive map shows climate change everywhere in world

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

New technologies and computing power to help strengthen population data

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>