Energy & Power
Viaducts may present new real estate for wind turbines
By Anthony Capkun
July 8, 2015 – According to calculations carried out by a European researcher team, wind turbines could be installed under some of the biggest bridges on the road network to produce electricity.
The Juncal Viaduct in Gran Canaria (Canary Islands) has served as a reference for Spanish and British researchers to verify that the wind blowing between the pillars of this kind of structure can move wind turbines and produce energy.
The study is based on models and computer simulations carried out by researcher Oscar Soto and his colleagues in Kingston University (London). Researchers have presented the wind turbines as porous discs to evaluate the air resistance and test different kinds of configurations.
“As natural, the more surface is swiped by the rotor, the more power can be produced; however, it was seen that in small turbines the power rate per square meter is higher,” explained Soto, who believes a configuration with two identical turbines would be the most viable to be installed in viaducts.
PHOTO: Illustration of two identical wind turbines installed in a viaduct. Courtesy José Antonio Peñas (Sinc).
Were only produced power evaluated, the best solution would involve the installation of two wind turbines with different sizes (to exploit the maximum available space) or even a matrix of 24 small turbines (due to their power production per surface unit and low weight), but as to viability, the best option is the one that includes two medium-sized wind turbines.
Results confirm that each viaduct presents specific energy possibilities and wind potential. In the Juncal Viaduct case, the evaluated power would be about 0.25MW per turbine. Two turbines would be about 0.5MW.