Intelligent rotor for wind energy cost reduction


New wireless sensor technology on wind turbine blades will enable design of long, light-weight blades that serve to reduce cost of wind energy

It must be cheaper to produce energy from wind turbines than from coal and oil. The Advanced Technology Foundation (HTF) has granted 33 million DKK to the development taking place in an interdisciplinary collaboration between companies LM Wind Power, PolyTech and kk-electronic and Aalborg University.
On-shore wind turbines can now produce one kilowatt hour for roughly the same price as fossil energy costs. But if the wind power really should attract new investors and be more widespread, further reduction is required in the cost of producing wind energy.
"Our ambition is to make it cheaper to use wind energy than fossil fuels. The incentive to switch to renewable energy sources is much greater if it is also an economic benefit. We find that wind turbine manufacturers use large resources to increase the efficiency of wind turbines, and therefore we believe that the market is ready for new technological solutions," says Frank V. Nielsen, VP of strategic alliances and business development at LM Wind Power.
It is the length of the turbine blades that have the greatest impact on how much energy can be harvested from the wind. But when the blades are made longer, it results in increased cost of the entire wind turbine construction. It can be avoided if the long blades are equipped with sensors that can detect changes in the wind. The blades can then adjust to the wind, so that they produce as much as possible, and simultaneously keep the wind turbine within its design load envelope.
"The grant from the Foundation strengthens our ability that we as sub-suppliers can collaborate with a strong research team to develop the solutions that no single sub-supplier alone can handle. The solutions can bring us to the forefront with products that can increase profitability for investors in wind energy," says Tommy G Jespersen, CEO of kk-electronic.
The idea of placing sensors in wind turbine blades is not new, but has often failed because the wind turbine blade is operating in a harsh environment with risks of being hit by lightning strikes. It must be solved by developing an integrated sensor and lightning protection technology, which Aalborg University's antennas & radio propagation group will develop.
Professor Gert Frølund Pedersen from Aalborg University says about the collaboration: "We have long wanted to work with radio and antenna technology in many wireless sensor applications which is predicted a bright future. We now succeed with leading companies in the industry in which Denmark really are in front - the wind energy industry. "
Effective start/end date01/01/201430/06/2018