Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy Systems (Fraunhofer IWES) has launched a new test rig that enables testing wind turbine blades longer than 115 metres. Vestas, whose latest wind turbine model features 115.5-metre blades, will use the rig to perform the trials needed before starting serial production.
“The development of our new wind turbines is an important step on the way to achieving the ambitious expansion goals for wind energy. We are looking forward to conducting the rotor blade test we need for our V236-15.0 MW™ prototype with a rotor diameter of 236 meters together with Fraunhofer IWES with the aim of being able to start the serial production planned for 2024 assuredly”, said Christian Fenselau, Chief Specialist Test and Validation at Vestas Wind Systems.
The new test rig facilitates biaxial full-scale blade tests and also provides the option of testing individual segments of a rotor blade.
Furthermore, according to Fraunhofer IWES, the rig’s modular and adaptable design allows combining conventional test methods with new approaches and its scientists to react flexibly to requirements and further develop intelligent test methods.
The entire test rig can also be mapped virtually and thus provide a wide range of other digital testing methods, the German applied research centre says.
The construction of the test rig was financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action with around EUR 18 million and an additional EUR 5 million provided by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the State of Bremen, and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
“The pace in the technology development and optimization of rotor blades is rapid, but they are being implemented faster elsewhere. We must now ensure that the wind energy industry is equipped as well as possible to implement the offshore expansion goals”, said Andreas Reuter, Managing Director of Fraunhofer IWES.
“Our scientists are making an important contribution to this by applying scientific methodological expertise and creating a suitable test environment to get large-scale production in the industry up and running. Research is an essential step on the journey to a climate-neutral future and still relies on stable funding – including from grants”.
Vestas installed its V236-15.0 MW prototype wind turbine at the National Test Center for large wind turbines in Østerild, Denmark, at the end of the last year.
In December 2022, the company said that a 115.5-metre blade for its V236-15.0 MW wind turbine was being tested at Blaest’s blade test facility in Aalborg, Denmark.
Before going into commercial production, the new 15 MW wind turbine is undergoing comprehensive test campaigns which are a mandatory part of the type certification process, including blade tests which are expected to be running until the end of this year.
In October last year, Vestas said it planned to commence serial production of the V236-15.0 MW blades at its Nakskov facility in Denmark from the second half of 2023 and at its blades factory in Taranto, Italy, from the third quarter of 2023.