The new energy scenario is rising a strong interest towards the distributed production from renewable sources; among them, wind seems to be one of the most interesting and at the same time critical due to the challenges of the conversion technology. Operation of small wind energy conversion systems is generally very complex due the extremely variable regime of operation and the high turbulent wind, so that a deep knowledge of the dynamic response of such devices is crucial not only for optimising their performances but also to make them comfortable to be used in residential areas. For these reasons, the present work is focused on analysing the effect in changing the number of blades on a small horizontal axis wind turbine through an experimental campaign in the wind tunnel. The turbine dynamics has been characterised running some “wind ramp” tests and analysing the rotor capability in following the wind as well the vibrations transmitted by the turbine during the operation. Results demonstrate that a higher number of blades, despite a small decrease of performance, can make the machine more efficient in operating at low wind regimes. At the same time, a higher number of blades can make the rotor efficient even at lower speed of rotation, thus limiting the risks of having high magnitude vibrations.
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