Prestigious global award for Bristol engineer who helped power a worldwide wind energy revolution

February 12, 2024

Bristol green energy champion Andrew Garrad has received one of the world’s top engineering awards for his groundbreaking work on wind turbine design.

Andrew, chairman and co-founder of GL Garrad Hassan, the world’s leading renewable energy consultancy, was this week presented with The 2024 Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering (QEPrize).

The prize is awarded annually for innovations that have been of “global benefit to humanity”.

In Andrew’s case – and that of co-winner Denmark’s Henrik Stiesdal – it is for developments that have enabled wind energy to make a material contribution to electricity generation across the world, delivering transformational impact in diversifying the global energy mix.

Last December wind power accounted for 41.2% of the overall share of the UK energy mix – its highest ever level. Meanwhile gas-fired generation constituted its lowest share in four years.

This steep growth trajectory had been made possible by the revolutionary improvements in wind energy pioneered by the 2024 QEPrize laureates, its judges said.

Advances in modern wind turbine technology had transformed the cost, availability and scalability of wind power generation and would continue to play a central role in meeting global energy demand and transitioning to a zero-emissions electricity system.

Thejudges said over the past four decades the pair had made seminal engineering inputs that – from demonstration to full-scale implementation – had resulted in a “phenomenal increase” in the size of individual wind turbines and the and the scale of the wind farms in which they are sited, as well as in their engineering an economic performance.

They had each pioneered a system that is present in almost all modern wind turbines operating both onshore and offshore in the market today, the citation added.

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 GL Garrad Hassan, 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.

A similar analytical approach to wind farm yield pioneered widespread project finance by providing rigorous risk assessments of potential wind farm investment.

Now in its second decade as the leading international accolade for engineering achievement, 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.

According to the International Energy Agency, wind has one of the greatest potentials to increase countries’ renewable capacity growth1.

Solar PV and wind additions are forecast to more than double by 2028 and will constitute an unprecedented 96% of overall renewable power capacity expansion as cost competitiveness improves.

Andrew 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.”

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