Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Cutting-edge technology to better detect ice on wind turbines

The formation of ice prevents wind turbines from being effective in cold climates and high-altitude regions in Europe. An EU initiative aimed at developing a cost- and energy-efficient solution for ice formation.
Cutting-edge technology to better detect ice on wind turbines
Countries with extreme climates and higher elevations have enormous potential for wind energy generation, representing a vast untapped resource. Concerns over safety, efficiency and cost prevent wind turbine technology from spreading to areas with much potential for available wind. What is more, existing heating removal systems that deal with icing have cost and reliability issues. Ice on wind turbine blades significantly reduces performance and can ultimately lead to shutdown.

To address these issues, the EU-funded WINDHEAT (Opening new markets for SMEs: Intelligent ice sensing and de-icing system to improve wind turbine efficiency in cold climates) project sought to develop ice detection and de-icing systems and then integrate these innovations into a single, intelligent unit.

Specifically, project partners built a low-cost, robust and reliable sensing system to detect ice formation on wind turbine blades in real time. The technology can distinguish ice build-up when it occurs and identify its location. Project partners also created an ultra-efficient, lightweight and durable de-icing coating system for turbine blades that is compatible with standard coating processes. It is capable of solely targeting areas where ice forms.

The WINDHEAT team then combined the two systems towards the development of a novel ice detection and de-icing system for wind turbine blades. The overall technology is operated by a robust and high-performance intelligent control system.

Lastly, researchers successfully tested the WINDHEAT solution for ice detection and removal on a real wind turbine under normal and extreme conditions.

WINDHEAT introduced a far more superior alternative to comparable devices aimed at improving wind turbine efficiency in harsh conditions. By minimising the energy required to remove ice on wind turbine blades, the technology will improve overall energy efficiency by an estimated 15 %-20 %, helping to reduce costs around 10 %. Less maintenance and cleaning will also curb operational costs.

Related information


Ice, wind turbines, WINDHEAT, ice sensing, de-icing system
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