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Horizon 2020: Innovative Wind Turbines Receive EU Funding

Nabrawind Technologies and Agile Wind Power will receive big funding from the EU's Horizon 2020 programme for their innovative wind turbines. While Nabrawind Technologies scores with a novel tower concept and modular rotor blades, Agile Wind Power relies on a large vertical axis turbine.

The Horizon 2020 funding programme has again distributed money to innovative projects (Image: Pixabay)The Horizon 2020 funding programme has again distributed money to innovative projects (Image: Pixabay)

Good news for Spanish company Nabrawind Technologies this year are not stopping. At the end of June, it was announced that the company had received an order for the highest wind turbine tower on the African continent. Only two weeks later, the Horizon 2020 jury decided to support the company's further development with 1.7 million euros. The jury, representing the European Commission, assessed the potential of XXL wind towers and modular rotor blades as a positive approach in response to the logistical obstacles currently threatening the growth of the wind sector.

Success in Africa: A 144m wind tower is to be erected in Morocco in 2020 (Image: Nabrawind Technologies)

Eneko Sanz, General Manager of Nabrawind, is delighted not only with the money, but above all with the fact that "the European Commission joins those who believe that the future of wind energy passes through the transition to high-powered wind turbines, and the implementation of modular blades to overcome the logistical challenges that the sector is facing.” Sanz is convinced that "in the near future onshore wind turbines will have the same dimensions and power as offshore turbines, which currently are up to four times more powerful.”

One way to reach this goal is higher towers. Last year, Nabrawind Technologies successfully installed a 160 m self-erecting tower prototype in Eslava (Navarra), Spain's tallest wind tower. Now, the company will add the highest wind tower in Africa: next year, a wind tower with a height of 144 meters will be installed in Morocco. Next step for Nabrawind would be to break the 200-meter mark and the current altitude world record. That is 178m for a wind turbine in Germany at the moment.

Spanish company Nabrawind Technologies receives support from the EU program Horizon 2020 (Image: Nabrawind Technologies)

Meanwhile, Swiss company Agile Wind Power has been taking a different approach. Instead of higher towers, the company located in Dübendorf uses a vertical-axis wind turbine with rotor blades rotating around a vertical axis. The development of the large and, above all, quiet Vertical Sky®A 32 with a rated output of 750 kilowatts is intended to open up decentralised energy markets - the generation of electricity could thus be possible for everyone, everywhere. The output range is to cover plants between 750 kW and 1.5 MW.

The idea for this turbine dates back several years and can be found in a small garden between geraniums and Mediterranean vegetation. Karl Bahnmüller had built a water landscape for his grandchildren. To keep the water circulating, Bahnmüller built a wind turbine with a new drive system, too. He had no idea what this would do, but his son-in-law Patrick Richter took up the idea finding the A32 wind turbine in miniature there in his garden. For nine years now, Richter's team has been researching on and developing the turbine in his Start-Up Agile Wind Power.

That's how the turbine looks like (Image: Agile Wind Power)

And now this innovation has been selected for funding by the Horizon 2020 jury. Phase 1 funding began on August 1, 2019 and will be used to further advance negotiations with interested partners.

The significantly lower noise level of the turbine and the simpler logistics for transport, installation, operation and maintenance ensure a high level of environmental compatibility. This will allow Vertical Sky® to move closer to populated areas. Especially in times of decreasing acceptance for the "giant asparagus", as large wind turbines are often called, the vertical axis could calm the mood. Even locations that are difficult to access and cannot be served with existing technologies can be developed with little effort.

Much quieter than his 'big brothers': The Vertical Sky®A 32 vertical axis (Image: Agile Wind Power)

Whether Horizon 2020 has shown the right intuition by promoting these innovations will become apparent in the next few years when these products reach market maturity.

Katrin Radtke
Horizon 2020, EU, funding, Nabrawind Technologies, Spain, Agile Wind Power, Switzerland, vertikal axis, tower, self erected, innovation, money

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