Photo: IDOM

Largest wind turbine rotor test rig under construction in Netherlands

A consortium comprising GE Renewable Energy, LM Wind Power and TNO is building a test facility for wind turbine rotors, which will be largest of its kind once built at LM Wind Power’s WMC Technology Center in Wieringerwerf, the Netherlands.

The test rig, being constructed under the three-year STRETCH project which is partially funded by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, will allow for verification of the strength and the dynamic behaviour of wind turbine rotors under enormous mechanical loads caused by large blades.

The project will help improve existing design tools which, after verification through digital twin concepts, will contribute to the design of larger rotors, according to LM Wind Power.

“Larger turbines are essential to shape the much-required energy transition. Without innovations, larger turbines would become too heavy and too expensive to be commercially viable. Fast-paced innovation in wind turbine blade and rotor design, materials, construction and manufacturing have made the up-scaling of offshore wind turbines feasible and attractive around the world”, said Peter Eecen, TNO Wind Energy R&D Manager.

The test rig construction and commissioning are expected to be completed in November 2020.

“With this innovative rotor rig, we will be able to verify in-house the pitch bearings and pitch system that fix the wind turbine blades to the hub and allows pitching blade maximizing captured energy while reducing loads on wind turbine. This capability will provide our customers with a better understanding of the dynamic behaviour of large onshore and offshore rotors and will help LM Wind Power design ultra-large rotor blades by stretching and improving the existing designs”, said Hanif Mashal, LM Wind Power Vice President of Engineering.

In 2018, LM Wind Power revealed plans to acquire the WMC test facilities in Wieringerwerf and to use them for rotor hub testing for new GE turbines, as well as for blade and other testing, and for providing digital tools, research and similar services to the wider wind energy industry.

The company, owned by GE Renewable Energy, produced the first 107-metre blade – the world’s largest – at its plant in Cherbourgh, France, in June 2019. The blade was installed on the prototype GE Haliade-X 12MW offshore wind turbine in Maasvlakte in October 2019.

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