Aerogenerator X by Grimshaw and Arup


Aerogenerator X by Grimshaw and Arup

London architects Grimshaw and engineers Arup have unveiled this design for an offshore wind turbine. 

Aerogenerator X by Grimshaw and Arup

Top and above images are by Grimshaw

Called Aerogenerator X, the design for British company Wind Power would produce twice as much power and have half the weight of the company's current design.

Aerogenerator X by Grimshaw and Arup

Above diagram is by Arup. Click for larger image.

More green design »

Here's some more information from Wind Power Limited:

British company Wind Power Limited has unveiled the new embodiment of its innovative Aerogenerator project visualised by leading international architects Grimshaw. The Aerogenerator X is twice the power and half the weight of Wind Power’s original Aerogenerator design.

The Aerogenerator X is considered one of the only real alternative solutions available to help deliver the UK’s offshore wind strategy in a reliable and cost effective manner. It does not have the same weight constraints as a normal wind turbine and the blades do not suffer weight-induced fatigue. This new design is half the height of an equivalent horizontal-axis turbine and its weight is concentrated at the base of the structure.

The Aerogenerator X is the conclusion of an 18-month feasibility study called the NOVA project undertaken by Cranfield University, QinetiQ, Strathclyde University, Sheffield University and Wind Power Limited supported by consultant engineers and project managers. The NOVA feasibility project was funded by the Energy Technologies Institute, a public private partnership comprising BP, Caterpillar, EDF, E.ON, Rolls-Royce, Shell, BP, EDF, EON, Caterpillar, the UK Government and Wind Power Limited.

Wind Power Limited is also delighted to announce that it is in the process of entering a Memorandum of Understanding with Arup to help successfully continue project development.

Speaking at the unveiling of Aerogenerator X John Roberts, Head of Energy at Arup, said: ‘Despite the installation of a number of large wind turbines offshore, the problems of increasing capital cost for deeper water remains unsolved as does the issue of safe operability in the marine environment. There is a tremendous opportunity for new ideas to make a difference to the commercial viability and operability of offshore wind power. More cost-effective solutions will be essential if offshore wind power is to make the ‘hoped for’ contribution to the UK’s GHG emission reduction targets.’

Professor Feargal Brennan, Head of Offshore, Process and Energy Engineering at Cranfield University, said: ‘Upsizing conventional onshore wind turbine technology to overcome cost barriers has significant challenges, not least the weight of the blades, which experience a fully reversed fatigue cycle on each rotation. As the blades turn, their weight always pulls downwards, putting a changing stress on the structure, in a cycle that repeats with every rotation – up to 20 times a minute.

‘In order to reduce the fatigue stress, the blade sections and thicknesses are increased which further increases the blade self-weight. These issues continue throughout the device. Drive-train mountings must be stiff enough to support the heavier components inside the nacelle on top of the tower, otherwise the systems can become misaligned and the support structure is also exposed to extremely large dynamic thrust and bending stresses, which are amplified significantly with any increase in water depth.’

Theo Bird of Wind Power Limited said: ‘Offshore is the ideal place for wind power but is also an extremely tough environment. The US wind researchers who worked on vertical axis projects have always regarded the technology as great to work with at sea because it can be big, tough and easily managed. We are extremely grateful to the ETI who had the vision to help us pick up from where the US left off. By facilitating projects like ours they continue the heritage of great engineering in Britain.’

Neven Sidor, Partner at Grimshaw, said: ‘The Aerogenerator X embodies the best in innovative engineering in Britain, and continues an illustrious tradition. Grimshaw has great regard for this engineering tradition, and is delighted to help in its realisation.’

See also:


Wind dam by
Chetwood Associates
Nano Vent-Skin by
Agustin Otegu
Energy Roof Perugia by
Coop Himmelb(l)au

Posted on Tuesday July 27th 2010 at 6:52 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • I think it is a pure PR. Why an offshore wind turbine should be designed by trendy architects? I mean, common, we are not talking about industrial design here at all. I understand why cell-phones or other gadgets should be beautifully designed. But wind turbine in the middle of the ocean must be as effective as possible. That's it. I don't care if it is ugly as long as it performs it's job sufficiently. If sleek design by starchitect takes even 0.1% of it's green efficiency it should be dumped. I mean, some things have nothing to do with architectural ideologies of ugliness and aesthetics. I would prefer architects to use their talents in buildings' design and city planning, where there is an obvious lack of creativity and beauty. Why not to use your skills where it should be used?
    P.S. It reminds me of rappers becoming clothing / fashion gurus. But we are architects not rappers.

    • Tai

      Well, according to the article, the new design is supposed to produce "twice the power," while only having "half the weight of Wind Power’s original Aerogenerator design". So this is not a case of architects beautifying a product at the expense of its function.

    • filip

      If you had read the article you would have seen that it was a collaboration between engineers and architects based on research previously done from various research institutions. Sure there are some talented individuals out there but one person or one field can’t do everything and different professions can collaborate on a project. At a time off economic uncertainty, with the building profession being hit incredibly hard in the UK, architects need to innovate or die.

      "Called Aerogenerator X, the design for British company Wind Power would produce twice as much power and have half the weight of the company’s current design.” well it seems to be better than what is currently available.

      Judging by your website you seem to be quite misguided and naive in your appraisal of modern architecture. Also one of the greatest Renaissance men, Da Vinci, wasn’t defined by one role in life so who are you to say what other human beings should be involved in?

      • I read article very careful, filip. I wouldn't dare to comment (especially with Open ID) on something I don't understand. I saw all those names. What pissed me off is that those "boring" guys mentioned (practically hidden) in the middle of the article's body (you can compare it to the fine print), those guys (among them few leading world universities, companies like Caterpillar, Rolls-Royce, Shell, etc…) worked very hard on feasibility studies for 18 months… Right? And here's the catchy title: Aerogenerator X by Grimshaw and Arup (thanks at least Arup is mentioned!).

        "London architects Grimshaw and engineers Arup have unveiled this design for an offshore wind turbine. " It sounds not fair to me.

        And we both know that doesn't matter what kind of technical optimization has been designed on that turbine Grimshaw had nothing to do with it.

        I am not naive and misguided. Maybe not politically correct. Yes t at times my reviews are not going deep enough, it is not because I don't know of Leonardo being "multitasking" genius or can't enjoy modern architecture, but because I am trying to make a point in a more simplistic manner. And hey, blog format unfortunately by itself is pretty shallow. Don't you think so?

        I have nothing against architects going beyond traditional lines and designing any kind of substance, even wind turbines. I don't like when credits have been taken by somebody who was obviously not playing the leading role in product's creation.

    • Sam

      forntunately this generator is not only designed by so called "trendy architects", but also (and probably mostly) by engineers (Arup…?)

    • It's gorgeous, and that does matter.

      Oddly, you look a bit like a rapper in your avatar there Albert !

      • It is gorgeous in an abstract way. So what?

        I don't think I can ever look like a rapper. I am Caucasian. Real rap music is a wonderful music of protest and soul. It is a powerful poetry of Black artists; that with all due respect cannot be easily imitated by the other people.

        • not a fag

          FYI… the best rapper alive is actually EMINEM, a white boy….

    • Having read your blog and the above comments – the nostalgia of your view of architecture and architects is overwhelming.
      That architects are creating in a world that is vastly different from 500 or 2000 years ago is surely self evident? As architecture is a physical art that is built for use, commissioned by those with money it is inseparable from the powers that shape our world – business, money, publicity etcetc not aesthetic, elitist ideals. This is not good or bad, but the way it is and your negative, I have to say, seemingly uninformed or wilfully biased views do nothing to contribute to the discourse of architecture and urbanism as it is today.

      • Eminem


        Spot on.

        I think your comment about rap music illustrates Lindzilia’s point perfectly and condemns all your arguments presented here.

        Perhaps at its outset in the 70s and 80s rap/hip hop was a “a powerful poetry of Black artists” but in the year 2010 rap has a completely different cultural context and has been imbued with completely different meaning. The idea of a white rapper being in NWA in the 80s is completely ridiculous, but not anymore.

        Now go apply the same argument to architecture…

      • I don't have any nostalgia, Miss.
        And Eminem's rap is not my type of music

  • mussman

    I think Albert makes a good point.

  • will

    Perhaps designers and creative types can prove useful in rethinking certain ingrained theory’s regarding technology. In the burgeoning wind power market (and ‘alternative’ power market in general), why not come at the issue from many angles?

    Historically, architects have involved themselves in much more than ‘just’ buildings and planning. From furniture to graphic design and typography.

    I say interesting approach, I’d like to see more about the project such as drawings, production numbers etc…

  • Of course… in the case of realistic energy resources EFFICIENCY is KING… they are just visualistions. As long as they crank out efficient energy and STORE and FEED it then yeah aesthetics are not important. However, architects and fancy visuals will always be appropriate. Intuitive ay.

  • jack

    Wow, Albert, excellent comment.

    I think to most people the images show form following function, it’s a design and engineering principle, perhaps you’ve heard of it? Sometimes, I hope you’re sitting down for this, it leads to a purely functional object that also happens to be aesthetically pleasing.

    P.S. Common means ‘Occurring frequently or habitually; usual’, not a colloquialism for come on.

  • ana

    Albert, please don’t say that you’d prefer something ugly in the middle of the ocean or mountain or whatever as long as it is efficient. Don’t say it because a lot of clean energy projects, like wind turbines, are precisely a failure and not approved because they have an important visual impact on the landscape (among others, of course)!

    Because people just don’t like to see a wind turbine on the top of their favourite mountain or favourite coast!! And they don’t care about its efficiency or if it is sustainable or if it is one of the main solutions for our real environmental problems!

    Sometimes and in some places, this kind of clean energy is simply not used as much as it should also because how it looks!

    So, if you can reduce at least its visual impact by making it like a super sculpure or a nice thing visually (even if this is a subjective matter), why shouldn’t architects and designers help? As long as it helps these kind of projects to be more used!!

    I am an environmental engineer, so maybe I shouldn’t read Dezeen?

    Why should creativity and beauty only be used by architects in buildings and city planning?? Do you really have such a reduced approach of your own profession?

    Think globally, not locally!! Open your mind!!

    • Will MacCormac

      I agree with Albert, I don't think aesthetics hugely important if far offshore- but whether this VAWT is more efficient then a standard one is irrelevant – a more efficient way to produce our electricity AND be aesthetically pleasing is through tidal energy

      • Kaptain krunch

        Tidal more aesthetic and effiecient?
        "references needed"

        The severn barrage, the best tidal example i can think of would be huge, costly, vastly change eco systems, and only provide surge power.

        I think It's a beautiful piece of engineering, although I'm a bit puzzled what grimshaw actually did beyond the colour scheme?

        The main point is that it's half the weight therefore uses far less steel is easier to transport, easier to maintain etc. etc. Also really important is that it fatigues less, so will last longer, which brings down the overall cost of windpower in the long term.

        • amsam

          Tidal power is trouble because building a huge turbine underwater runs into rather large maintenance issues– whenever something needs to be fixed you need to send down scuba divers (and you can't do that in a storm)– it's a nightmare.

    • Again, I prefer beautiful. Of course. How can you say I prefer ugly reading this for example:

      But I prefer relevant beauty. And we are talking about energy generators such as off-shore wind turbines or nuclear stations (let’s raise the stakes) then in my view there is only one way here: FORM FOLLOWS FUNCTION.

      I deeply respect you, Ana, for being an engineer and reading Dezeen
      I am an architect and read very technical magazine “Constructions Canada”.
      Hope all people on this board are doing similar “contrarian reading”.

      • If you are doing 'contrarian reading' Albert, then it seems you are only digesting those pieces of information that supports your already strongly held views. Open mindedness is an attitude, not an action

        • I should acknowledge that there is a certain dosage of truth in your remark, Lindzilia… (nice name). But at least I am fair and sincere. And straight-forward attitude is a rare find these days. Days of politically correct lies. People hate truth.

          • Sorry Albert but can't leave this one alone: If you equate 'truth' with all-too-simplistic maxims (Such as 'people hate truth) then yes, people hate 'truth' – it is twisting the rules of logic to utilise over simplified statements or statements of opinion and call them true – you can argue anything that way.

  • Will MacCormac

    @Kaptain Krunch
    Its a more predictable source of energy than wind or sun.
    Water is 800 times denser than air so tidal speeds of nearly one-tenth of the speed of wind provide the same power for the same size of turbine system.
    Do I really need to explain why a tidal turbine might be more aesthetically pleasing?

    • kaptn krunch

      The tidal turbines in development currently don't actually work, and there's less tidal area to put them in than windy areas. Also you need to think about utilisation, a tidal turbine will be functioning about 2 or 3 times a day. A wind turbine may be operating 90% of the day.

      Water is 800x denser. But it move a lot slower and it's a far harder medium to put mechanical things in, service them, construct them etc. To produce any real power from tidal you need a barrage, which is huge and costly.

      Crunch the numbers and wind comes out on top every time unless you build a barrage and simultaneously have a solution for storing that peak energy.

      And sorry, you said tidal is more predictable than solar energy. Yes, but solar energy comes in a consistent quantity for a longer period as opposed to providing rushes of energy.

  • seanturvey

    Are my calculations correct?

    Circumference (C) = Diameter * Pi

    C: 2780.30715 ft.

    (C * RPM * 60) / 5280 = MPH
    (2780.30715 * 20 * 60) / 5280
    = 631.89

    It would seem to me at 8mph short of the speed of sound that it would rip itself to bits in no time.

    • Iulian

      Yes, are correct. But if they made the blades from crel steel (Altaira planet) will work…

    • seanturvey

      If it's braking system ever failed and it free-wheeled above the speed of sound (640 mph) the trailing blades could be potentially be hit by sonic booms produced by the first blade. This would most likely cause its destruction (if it lasted long enough for this to happen). It would also make it almost impossible to stop or repair as someone would have to enter a ring of lethal sonic booms.

      • amsam

        Gee you're right Turvey, they should probably hire an engineer to look into that. Good thing you caught it in time before they build that thing!

    • kaptn krunch

      I don’t think your calculations are correct as you’re talking about angular velocity as opposed to actual velocity.

  • mmm

    Actually, I think windmills are one of the most elegant pieces of modern technique – neither more ugly nor more 'horizon pollution' than pre-modern windmills.

    Actually, in terms of 'horizon pollution' the ARUP seems more violent than the traditional design. And I'm a bit disappointed how it visually falls apart in all these different elements: base, thick red connection point, arms wings, and these nasty little connection bars.

  • kaptn krunch

    A post here from a current Arup Employee:

    I have yet to ascertain which part of Arup was actually involved in this project, could someone in Dezeen please expand on that point with either a group, name, or project director. I’m very curious.

  • Xit

    If an ugly offshore wind turbine is so far out to sea that nobody can see it, is it still ugly?

  • Fish fingers

    If he works for Arup surely it would be easy to find out which office worked on the project – and why is it Dezeen’s job to re-write their press release?

    • kaptn krunch

      Problem is, no-one at Arup knows who worked on it. It's suspicious as to what our involvement actually is. I've had a look at the website of the company supposedly behind this thing and there'st no information on what our involvement was.

      I call this b*ll*cks until I see proof other than the Wind Power one.

      This came up a while ago :

      and was quite different..

      Please someone check and reference this.

  • LXD

    Like the London bus or a car designed by Hadid. It’s not even inspirative – just architecturized…

    Sometimes it seems architects think themselves to have all the answers.

    Great calendarimages though…

  • Is this gonna work? :-

  • Fizz

    "Ah yes… but will it fly?"

    • Penguin

      Yes, if we fold it like this…and this…

  • An architect is not personal, not one. is a team, a multi-disciplinary teams.
    By mixing different disciplinary, we will have a better chance of coming up with unexpected solutions when these people approach problems from different points of view.

    So be creative and rigorous in choosing and mixing our methods, the best outcomes might come from the most unexpected combinations.

    I agree with you Ana !!
    yes “Global” … no “Local” !!

  • Will

    look forward to a freak wave hitting that on its vertival axis, even a winter swell of 60 ft could cause bother.