Curiosity provides the basis of fundamental science, future wealth and progress of societies!
Aiming at enhancing wind energy reseach eawe fell back on the collective knowledge of its members to work out a long-term research agenda, available here as an open access publication within the journal Wind Energy Science.
Driven by problems and curiosity, addressing basic research and fundamental knowledge, the authors sincerely hope that it will spur an intensive discussion worldwide within the wind energy community. Readers are encouraged to agree or disagree, propose modifications and missing topics, and to challenge each other with good arguments within the discussion forum.
eawe jointly organized workshops in cooperation with the Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg (Institute for Advanced Study, HWK) in Delmenhorst, Germany to prepare the agenda.
For exploring future challenges and shifting boundaries in science and technology, the members of eawe have defined eleven ambitious R&D focus areas for the period 2016 - 2025.
Feel free to share your views and join the discussion forum to shape the future of wind energy research:
- Materials and Structures
Composite material rotor blades and metal wind turbine support structures should be capable of withstanding highly fluctuating fatigue loads in a largely unattended 25-30 year operational life. Structural components and system designs complying with long-term operation present huge challenges and ask for (new) materials, methods, and (application) effects, all requiring full understanding of the fundamentals.
- Wind and Turbulence
Optimal wind turbine placement requires deep insight into prevailing wind conditions at any relevant position of a terrain or space, from flat land to forested regions, urbanised sites, mountainous areas, and offshore alike. Basic equations for determining atmospheric flow are well known, but not solvable, so approximate solutions through modelling require continued experimental validation.
Wind turbines and wind farms experience three-dimensional unsteady aerodynamic phenomena ranging from sub-millimetre scale (airfoil boundary layer) to hundreds of kilometres when clustering. A current aerodynamics main challenge is to understand and model these phenomena throughout the full scales range, and to design through aeroelasticity and control for coupling turbine’ structural life and wind farm performance.
- Control and System Identification
The availability of power electronic converters together with turbine grid integration rules has made pitch-controlled variable speed operation the current industry standard for wind turbines. However, new challenges to wind turbine control have risen from increasing system complexity due to larger rotor sizes, floating structures, and larger scale wind farms.
- Electricity Conversion
Electricity conversion encompasses all individual steps from the rotor hub through mechanical and electrical systems including frequency converter, transformer and (offshore) wind farm infrastructure. The scientific challenge is in removing critical technical barriers utilizing state-ofthe- art and new conversion solutions, with significant positive impact on CoE-performance especially on further up scaled offshore turbines.
- Reliability and Uncertainty Modelling
The topic focus is on reduction or even elimination of unexpected failures. For optimising operation and maintenance, thorough knowledge of external conditions as well as enhanced emphasis on diagnosis and data analysis are essential. Key developments are also required in structural health monitoring, prognostic and stochastic maintenance optimisation and decision tools.
- Design Methods
Current wind turbine design is often based upon iterations among discipline-oriented groups of specialists until an acceptable compromise solution has been identified, but an integrated design approach is still lacking. A truly holistic design methodology, using validated numerical models with adaptive levels of fidelity (different trade-offs between accuracy versus efficiency) and combined with automated algorithms, could lead to more satisfactory solutions.
- Hydrodynamics, Soil Characteristics and Floating Turbines
Compared with oil & gas industry know-how and experiences, seabed-fixed and floating offshore wind turbine support structures are smaller, more dynamic, and operate under different conditions. Current state of the art simulation tools are limited in terms of features and a main research challenge is how all hydrodynamic and geotechnical effects relevant to offshore turbines can be predicted in an efficient, accurate and reliable manner.
- Offshore Environmental Aspects
Offshore wind farms rapid overall growth causes cumulative environmental impacts by pile-ramming noises, hard substratum formations (piles and rock-fill), moving rotor blades, and men. Effects on benthic organisms, birds, fish and sea mammals have only been partly quantified and could range from positive to neutral and negative. Mitigation and aquaculture will create fresh opportunities.
- Wind Energy in the Electric Power System
Rapid wind power capacity growth requires parks to operate like conventional plants for maintaining a reliable infrastructure and stable grid power supply and consumption balancing at all instants. Besides voltage and frequency control as basic functional ancillary capabilities, ongoing research efforts will be necessary into improved power balancing and reliable short-term wind plant output prediction.
- Societal and economic aspects of wind energy
In the plans for a transition towards sustainable energy systems, which is the political goal in many countries, wind energy typically plays an essential role. However, with the increasing shares of wind energy in the energy systems, societal and economic aspects become more and more challenging. It is thus of utmost importance to understand and incorporate political, social and economic aspects in the research, so that wind energy can continue to be a success story.