Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Wind turbine design generates power innovation

Climate change calls for cheaper and more efficient energy generation using renewable means. Researchers have designed innovative, large offshore wind turbine designs between 10 MW-20 MW to meet these needs.
Wind turbine design generates power innovation
Climate change means that countries around the world are challenged to adopt renewable energy generation that is efficient, and at a much lower cost than current power generation options. Wind presents one such renewable source, but the efficiency of the wind turbines still needs to be improved with designs that will also lower costs.

Moving into deeper water with larger turbines represents the next big step for offshore wind power generation. More challenging environmental conditions call for an alternative to conventional designs to ensure reliability and cost effectiveness.

Proof of concept for turbine design

The EU funded INNWIND.EU project set out to design beyond state-of-the-art 10-20 MW offshore wind turbines and to demonstrate the performance of innovation components.

They achieved their objective by developing innovative rotors, drivetrain components, fixed and floating substructures that cut the costs of energy generation. The team reduced the levelised cost of energy (LCOE) for 20 MW offshore wind turbines by more than 30 % compared to 5 MW offshore wind turbines at the start of the project.

The INNWIND.EU team also managed to reduce fatigue loading on the turbines while increasing energy production using new rotors and advanced controls to reduce LCOE.

To prove the efficiency and innovation in their designs, the team completed proof-of-concept tests for individual components of the turbine. To do this, they tested key innovations such as smart blades, pseudo-magnetic direct drive (PDD) generators and superconducting generators.

They worked with industry partners to demonstrate superconducting coils made by Siemens wind power and the PDD generator was demonstrated by Magnomatics. The team manufactured smart blades in small scale and tested them on a rotating test rig. They simulated the smart blade performance on commercial wind turbines in close cooperation with Suzlon.

The project was not without some challenges, as team leader Peter Jensen says. “In the second year of the project (in 2013), Suzlon had to scale down its participation in the project significantly, due to the financial crisis affecting different markets,” he explains. The team had to find another partner to take up the smart blade testing, while Suzlon helped with simulating the smart blades performance on commercial turbines.

The three categories of design

INNWIND.EU developed their innovative turbine designs to reflect three important categories, which Jensen describes as “evolutionary, radically new and revolutionary.” He elaborates, saying: “Evolutionary refers to technology at the system level and component level where the technology readiness level is near to market.”

Radically new technology is technology that still needs lab testing and proof-of-concept to be accepted by industry. The two-bladed upwind and downwind rotors with non-conventional drivetrains that the team have developed fit this category. The project-developed vertical axis floating wind turbines and multi rotor designs as revolutionary technology.

Room for improvement

Moving forward, Jensen says the team is looking at progress in the offshore wind energy market, moving towards demonstration of 12-14 MW wind turbines. Having also developed floating wind turbines at 10 MW, the INNWIND.EU team plans to conduct more research on the floating wind turbines at 20 MW capacities.

The results of the project have encouraged the development of the 20 MW offshore wind turbine with applied research targeted at efficient design and manufacturing.


INNWIND.EU, wind turbine, turbine design, offshore wind, smart blade, energy generation, drivetrain, wind energy
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