This paper presents a model for the evaluation of energy performance and aerodynamic forces acting on a small helical Darrieus vertical axis wind turbine depending on blade inclination angle. It consists of an analytical code coupled to a solid modeling software, capable of generating the desired blade geometry depending on the desired design geometric parameters, which is linked to a finite volume CFD code for the calculation of rotor performance. After describing and validating the model with experimental data, the results of numerical simulations are proposed on the bases of five machine architectures, which are characterized by an inclination of the blades with respect to the horizontal plane in order to generate a phase shift angle between lower and upper blade sections of 0°, 30°, 60°, 90° and 120° for a rotor having an aspect ratio of 1.5. The effects of blade inclination on tangential and axial forces are first discussed and then the overall rotor torque is considered as a function of azimuthal position of the blades. Finally, the downstream tip recirculation zone due to the finite blade extension is analyzed for each blade inclination angle, achieving a numerical quantification of the influence of induced drag on rotor performance, as a function of both blade element longitudinal and azimuthal positions of the blade itself.

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