Europeans aim to conquer deep-water wind farm sites

With a kick-off meeting in Bremerhaven at the start of December, 19 partners from 8 European countries under the direction of the Fraunhofer IWES have entered the conception phase for the largest publicly-funded research project to develop technology for deep-water offshore wind: HiPRwind.

Nineteen companies led by the Fraunhofer research institute and including Acciona Energy (Spain), ABB Schweiz (Switzerland), Bereau Veritas, Angewandten Forschung (Germany) and Norges Teknisk (Norway) have joined forces on a €20-million project aimed at developing deep-water offshore wind technology over the next five years. The HiPRwind Project is part financed (€11 million) by the European Commission and underlines the tremendous economic potential of offshore wind energy.

Since pioneering activities in this field were so far privately financed, the existing knowledge is fragmented. The HiPRwind Project (read “hyperwind") is an EU-project which introduces a new cross-sectoral approach to the development of very large offshore wind turbines. Cutting-edge research centres and top-notch European industrial players will collaborate openly to achieve a common goal: the ramping up of offshore wind capacity in deep waters.

“For the first time, the HiPRWind Project provides comprehensive measurement data on wind turbines with floating structures. Therefore, project partners from companies and research institutes will jointly identify opportunities for cost cuttings to enhance offshore wind energy at deep water sites”, underlines Prof. Dr. Andreas Reuter, Director of project coordinator Fraunhofer IWES.

Focused on floating systems, this five-year pan-European R&D effort will develop and test new solutions for enabling offshore wind technologies at an industrial scale. The project is designed with an “open architecture, shared access” approach in that the consortium of 19 partners will work together, in a collaborative way, to develop enabling structural and component technology solutions for very large wind power installations in medium to deep waters. Results of general interest will be shared within the broader R&D community working on future wind energy solutions.

Floating wind turbines the goal

A central outcome of HiPRwind is to deliver a fully functional floating wind turbine installation at approximately 1:10th scale of future commercial systems, deployed at real sea conditions. This research and testing facility, a world’s first, will be used to research new solutions and generate field data. The project will address critical issues of offshore wind technology such as the need for extreme reliability, remote maintenance and grid integration with particular emphasis on floating wind turbines, where economic and technical weight and size limitations of wind turbines and support structures can be overcome.

Innovative engineering methods will be applied to selected key development challenges such as rotor blade designs, structural health monitoring systems, reliable power electronics and control systems. Built-in active control features will reduce the dynamic loads on the floater in order to save weight and cost compared to existing designs. HiPRWind will develop and test novel, cost effective approaches to floating offshore wind turbines at a lower 1-MW scale.

In this way, the project will overcome the gap in technology development between small scale tank testing and full scale offshore deployment. Thereby, HiPRwind will significantly reduce the risks and costs of commercialising deep water wind technology. The HiPRwind Project will make use of existing test locations which offer a favourable permitting situation and infrastructure such as grid connection and monitoring facilities already in place.

In Work Package (WP) 1, the floating support structure and its moorings system will be designed, whereas WP2 is focused on the construction of the full demonstrator unit, its assembly at port facilities and installation at the offshore test site. WP 3 covers the coordination and operation of the platform related research. Within WP 4 to 7, critical aspects of the floating wind turbine are investigated, such as the structure and its system dynamics, the controller, condition and structural health monitoring systems, and the rotor based on innovative blade designs and features. High reliability power electronics will be designed, assembled and tested in the lab at a multi-MW scale. The R&D results all feed into WP8 which is dedicated to identifying and refining new concepts for very large offshore wind turbines. The project also has dedicated WPs for dissemination and IPR exploitation, addressing also non-specialist and non-technical target groups, as well as project management drawing on both research and industry consortium members.

The full impact of the HiPRwind Project will be ensured by the strong and close collaboration of participating best-in-class industrial and R&D players in the maritime and wind energy sector with a strong background on successful industrial development in harsh environments. This joint cross-sectoral approach aims to stimulate market development in floating wind technology. Improving the cost efficiency of offshore wind energy will facilitate exploitation of untapped deep-water wind resources. An ambitious dissemination approach will promote broad awareness and up-take of project results in successive R&D projects.

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