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Model rotor experiments under controlled conditions

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The answer is blowing in the wind - new rotor models

Wind energy researchers used advanced computer models to gain new insights into how air flows around the rotor blades of wind turbines. This information was used to develop new models, resulting in more efficient and safer turbines.

Industrial Technologies icon Industrial Technologies

The European Union is committed to substantially increasing its capacity for wind power from turbines based on land and offshore. However, a number of previous studies have revealed uncertainties in the calculation of design loads. The result has been the need for high safety factors in the certification process to counter this cause for design risk. This problem, however, becomes more serious as turbines become larger and more costly. Therefore, it is of major importance to the European wind industry that these uncertainties and risks are reduced. This challenge was addressed by researchers from the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN) through the auspices of the MEXICO project. As the size of wind turbines increases so do the investment costs, which have been matched by an equally growing demand for greater reliability in design methods. Scientists and engineers from the MEXICO consortium, therefore, worked to reduce the existing level of uncertainty regarding the modelling of rotor aerodynamics. The study revealed new insights into the aerodynamic behaviour of wind turbines. These findings were included in new aerodynamic models and provide information regarding the models' accuracy. Researchers analysed the results and compared them with existing engineering models, and advanced Navier-Stokes equations which describe the flow of air around the rotor. These fresh findings were developed through the use of models and applied as new computer codes. The validation of the data provided valuable information regarding the accuracy of current models, resulting in a reduced safety factor. The work of the MEXICO team has also contributed towards EU goals for sustainability and a reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by promoting renewable energy. This in turn has contributed to the quality of life within the region. The knowledge gained through active participation in the project has also given project partners a competitive advantage in the international wind energy market.

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