Germany: Reliable Composite Blades for Wind Energy

The renewable energy industry is advancing worldwide and the wind industry is growing in both the energy marketplace and in the size of turbines.

As energy providers add up the costs of maintenance, the demands are on wind turbine makers to ensure reliability particularly in the blades, which are exposed to extremes of weather. AMI‘s global networking conference Wind Turbine Blade Manufacture 2012 addresses the issues of manufacturing reliable blades. It takes place from 27-29 November 2012 at the Maritim Hotel in Düsseldorf, Germany. REPower will open the discussions with an outline of the issues of global composite manufacturing for the wind industry.

The offshore wind market requires the largest blades ever seen and this conference will kick off with papers from designers on all aspects of this mammoth upscaling challenge. LM Windpower has developed rotor systems that can be used more flexibly to keep costs down. Aerodynamic considerations in blade innovation will be outlined by Siemens Wind Power. In the USA, the Sandia National Laboratories have worked on 100 meter blades and Wetzel Engineering has studied test-based engineering models. Root joints take a tremendous amount of strain: Owens Corning has studied both design and materials. The conference will also hear about new developments by Beijing Goldwind, a leading global player.

Alongside these developments comes a need to adapt manufacturing processes for both size and cost-reduction to enhance the economics of wind energy. Gamesa Innovation and Technology has a modular production system for modular blades. In North America, TPI Composites is working with the US Department of Energy on advanced manufacturing techniques. The potential for automation is a common discussion point: Sinoi and Fraunhofer IWES are collaborating on projects, while Premium Aerotec has methods for semi- and fully automatic lay-up.

Nordex Energy is supplying turbines for some of the harshest operating conditions in the world in Northern Sweden and has developed anti-icing technology to maximise power generation. Lightning hits tall structures and wind blades are hit regularly, so the IEC has set standards and Manchester University will outline the impact for blades of the recent update of IEC 61400-24. One of the issues for durability is blade leading edge erosion, so 3M has produced a new solution.

Professor Povl Brondsted of the Technical University of Denmark, Riso, will give a review of new developments in wind blade materials. Gurit is involved in several aspects of wind blade manufacturing including mould supply and composite innovations: the company has recently examined the role of resin in failure. On a similar topic, BASF has reviewed material compatibility in the layered structures of rotor blades. Using expertise from automotive, Sika Technology has tougher materials for wind. In Switzerland, 3A Composites has looked at core materials with the aim of increasing performance while cutting costs.

There are many other aspects for global turbine manufacturers to consider such as worldwide sourcing and material supply, variations in climate and blade technology, and end of life disposal of blades as the first generation of wind turbines is upgraded. Professor Albers (Bremen) will outline the recycling options.

Wind energy efficiency is dependent on blade technology and reliability, AMI’s Wind Turbine Blade Manufacture 2012 provides a unique place to network with other blade makers and engineers and to review innovation opportunities.


Offshore WIND staff, August 22, 2012

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