Wind Energy Handbook

By Paul Gipe

The Wind Energy Handbook is one of a trio of big wind energy books by John Wiley & Sons’UK office. After a dearth of new wind energy titles in English for nearly a decade, suddenly there are two original books by Wiley, another two English translations of books originally published in German, and a Canadian work on Darrieus turbines.

The Handbook is a massive work that will surely become a classic of its genre. The tome was written by a team of four authors all of whom have first-hand experience with Britain’s commercial wind industry. Three of the four worked for the Wind Energy Group, a British manufacturer of wind turbines during the 1980s.

Disclosure: My book Wind Energy Comes of Age is published by John Wiley & Sons (US), and the rights to it were briefly held by John Wiley & Sons (UK).

Tony Burton, a civil engineer, was construction manager for WEG when I met him on the site of National Windpower’s project at Cemmaes in Wales. Coming from California, I was impressed with WEG’s site development practices and rightly or wrongly I’ve always credited Burton and his client, National Windpower, for a job well done. Today Burton is a consultant to the wind industry from his office in Wales.

Ervin Bossanyi, a controls engineer, wrote several provocative reports on the use of variable speed in the design of wind turbines while at WEG–articles that no doubt made him unpopular with ill-fated U.S. manufacturer Kenetech. Bossanyi also continues to work in the wind field, though now for Garrad Hassan.

David Sharpe is an aerodynamicist who has been a leading figure in British aeronautical circles. He recently retired from his position with the Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology at Loughborough University.

Nick Jenkins, also a WEG alumnus, is an electrical engineer who’s earlier book, Wind Energy Technology (1997), caught the eye of editors at John Wiley. He’s on the faculty at the University of Science and Technology in Manchester.

Wiley, the publisher, took a gamble on wind. At the time in the late 1990s when American publishers were dumping their renewable energy titles, John Wiley & Sons’ European division plunged into wind energy. The wind industry had clearly shifted to Europe and Wiley, an American company, followed the market across the Atlantic.

At one time Wiley’s UK office had at least three technical books on wind energy in the pipeline. Eventually they published the English translation of Eric Hau’s Windkraftanlagen as Large Wind Turbines, Wind Energy Explained, and the Wind Energy Handbook. All three books are big and both Wind Energy Explained and the Wind Energy Handbook are complicated to produce.

There hadn’t been a book issued in Britain that comprehensively covered the topic since Leon Freris’ Wind Energy Systems by Prentice Hall in 1990, itself a multi-author work by leaders in the British wind community.

Reflecting a trend in publishing, the Handbook is also available electronically. Wiley UK also publishes the Wind Energy Journal, one of only two peer-reviewed journals on wind energy.

“It (the Handbook) covers all the bases,” says Andrew Garrad, a principal of international consultants Garrad Hassan. According to Garrad the Handbook “is a worthy successor” to Freris’ book, in which Garrad was a contributing author. As the British market expands so to does the need for training, says Garrad, and the Handbook is the kind of resource that will be used to meet the need for advanced training.

The Handbook has high production values. All the charts are sharp and easy to read and there are a number of dramatic photographs of wind turbines in Europe, including pictures of various drive trains as well pitch linkages on variable-pitch turbines.

Reflecting contemporary interest in how wind turbines are being used in the field, the Handbook includes an entire chapter on installation and wind farm design. For American readers, this chapter is useful because it explains the British concept of Zones of Visual Impact as well as viewpoint analysis. It also discusses the sources of wind turbine noise and methods for estimating noise impact.

The Handbook has been long in coming, but it was well worth the wait. Moreover, their timing couldn’t have been more on the mark. After nearly a decade in the doldrums, British wind energy is finally stirring. Three companies using continental technology are now manufacturing turbines or components in Great Britain: Vestas in Scotland, NEG-Micon’s blade plant in Southampton, and FKI in Loughborough using DeWind’s technology. And Britain’s first big offshore project is underway. Further evidence that there is–once again–a market for sophisticated engineering texts on wind energy.

Wind Energy Handbook, by Tony Burton, David Sharpe, Nick Jenkins, Ervin Bossanyi, ISBN: 0-471-48997-2, cloth, US $150, 642 pages, 2002. Available from John Wiley & Sons, Baffins Lane, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 8SQ, United Kingdom, +44 12 43 77 97 77,, An online version of this title is available for license through Wiley InterScience.