Wind turbine pioneer Professor Andrew Garrad awarded Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering
Press release issued: 7 February 2024
A Bristol academic who helped pioneer the development of wind turbines to deliver energy has been awarded the 2024 Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering.
Professor Andrew Garrad, a Visiting Professor in the Department of Engineering Mathematics at the University of Bristol, was awarded the prestigious accolade alongside fellow wind turbine pioneer Henrik Stiesdal at a ceremony held at the Science Museum in London on Tuesday 6 February.
The duo were recognised for their groundbreaking innovations in advancing the design, manufacture and deployment of high-performance wind turbines.
Their work has enabled wind energy to make a material contribution to global electricity generation and deliver transformational impact in diversifying the global energy mix.
The BLADED computational design tool, pioneered by Andrew Garrad, allows engineers to model a complicated turbine system in its entirety and to predict its behaviour with the confidence needed to permit manufacture of these huge machines.
It has been used all over the world and through the consultancy company he co-founded, which supported the industry through design consultancy, testing, measurements, energy evaluation and technical due diligence, has allowed the rapid expansion of the global manufacturing base.
In December of last year, wind power accounted for 41.2% of the overall share of the UK energy mix, its highest ever level – while gas-fired generation constituted its lowest share in four years.
This steep growth trajectory has been made possible by the revolutionary improvements in wind energy pioneered by the Garrad and Stiesdal.
Professor Garrad said: “Wind energy has been with us for millennia, but in the last 50 years, it entered a new era. The 10m diameter turbines of my early professional life have become the 250m giants of today – simply amazing!
“What could possibly be more exciting for an engineer? I count myself as extraordinarily lucky to have been part of that transition. To be awarded the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering is a wonderful bonus to an already fascinating career.
“I am personally, immensely proud, but Henrik and I see ourselves as representatives of a much bigger group of people who have made wind energy an essential part of our zero-carbon future and we have, all of us together, earned this Prize.”
Henrik Stiesdal is credited for a three-blade turbine that represents what is sometimes described as the Danish concept. Leading notable developments in proprietary blade manufacturing technology throughout the 90s, Stiesdal’s elegant innovation that operates upwind of the tower and allows twisting of the blades about their own axis (pitch control) has significantly enhanced scale and efficiency of modern turbines.
Awarded annually, the QEPrize is presented to engineers responsible for groundbreaking innovations that have been of global benefit to humanity. The 2024 QEPrize Laureates were announced by Lord Browne of Madingley, Chairman of the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering Foundation, during a reception at the Science Museum in the presence of HRH The Princess Royal, Royal Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.
To find out more about this year's winning innovation, visit www.qeprize.org/winners.