A new research hub has been formed in the UK that will address the needs of next-generation, large offshore wind turbines.
The Offshore Renewable Catapult’s (ORE’s) third research hub will focus on developing next-generation turbines and on improving their operation, reliability and performance.
The University of Sheffield has been named as the academic partner for catapult’s newest hub. It is world-renowned for its expertise in the fields of electrical machines, power electronics, controls and energy conversion and storage and will contribute a minimum of £1.7M (US$2.2M) over five years.
This complements the £700,000 (US$915,000) in funding from the catapult with the collective contributions supporting 12 PhDs, a number of postdoctoral research associates and access to the university’s extensive testing facilities in addition to ORE Catapult’s 1, 3 and 15-MW test assets at its National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth.
GE Renewable Energy will also contribute £500,000 (US$650,000) over a four-year programme supporting the research projects. This allows the university to significantly increase its contributions.
The Powertrain Research Hub (PTRH) will support the development of future technologies for larger turbines and research solutions for improving turbine reliability and availability. The hub’s key objectives are:
Research will focus on minimising human intervention throughout the life of the wind turbine, an area of research that has attracted the support of GE Renewable Energy as it is a good fit with its recently announced ‘Stay Ashore!’ research collaboration with the catapult, aimed at minimising the time people have to spend offshore.
The catapult already has a strong track record in powertrain testing, research and development and recently signed a five-year collaboration agreement with GE Renewable Energy to advance next-generation turbine technologies, including the Haliade-X 12 MW, the most powerful wind turbine in the world to date.
ORE Catapult head of strategic research Paul McKeever said, “With industry moving towards larger wind turbines, we have an opportunity to significantly contribute to reducing the cost of turbine technology. It is essential to maximise this opportunity in a number of key areas including the challenge of improving powertrain component reliability and availability.
“By developing the next generation of powertrain components, and improving their lifespan, we can significantly reduce the related operations and maintenance costs and subsequently minimise the number of human interventions for potentially dangerous turbine repair work at sea.”
University of Sheffield scientific director Professor David Stone said, “The University of Sheffield sees working with ORE Catapult as a fantastic opportunity to apply its cutting-edge research ideas to support the rapidly expanding field of green energy generation solutions. The synergies brought about by the PTRH will not only bring benefits for the University and the offshore wind industrial sector, but consumers as a whole through higher reliability, lower cost electricity generation."