Gamesa Technology Corp. Inc. and the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are teaming up to study and test a variety of components and systems that will guide the development of the next generation of wind turbines designed specifically for the U.S. marketplace.
Gamesa and NREL will collaborate on work in three key areas: developing new wind turbine components and rotors for the U.S. market; researching and testing the performance of new control strategies; and devising models that will help advance the development of offshore wind in U.S. coastal waters.
Using Gamesa's turbine platform as a laboratory, researchers will study the behavior of systems and how new designs, products or equipment can affect performance.
Chief among the goals of this research-and-development (R&D) project is the design of new products specifically for the U.S. market, with a sharp focus on interior and exterior components, as well as the rotors themselves. For instance, researchers will examine how bigger rotors, as well as blade aerodynamics and some other features, can be altered to maximize annual energy production. Turbine tests will measure and validate the outcome of the research, looking at power performance, power quality and acoustics to minimize noise levels.
Gamesa and NREL also will work to design and test new lightning protection and other turbine conditioning systems, examining their performances in a range of temperatures at high altitude to ensure that they will function in any U.S. environment. New converter technologies will be used to test ways to increase energy output while enhancing component reliability. Extensive tests also will be conducted on other turbine components, examining motion, temperatures, stresses and vibration levels, where the findings could lead to improvements that enhance the reliability of future U.S. installations.
In addition, Gamesa and NREL will work to develop new control strategies that improve energy capture while decreasing loads, which will be accomplished through the development of new algorithms. New control strategies will be tested extensively throughout the turbine, and testing will include measurement of aerodynamic loads, the response of blade profiles and pitch actuation. Output will be measured to determine how changes affect power output and its fluctuations, and what the effects are on structural loads and the drivetrain response.
Furthermore, NREL and Gamesa will conduct a round-robin exercise using existing turbine modeling software to develop new methods designed to enable companies to predict the behavior of offshore wind turbines, as well as the potential sensitivity of equipment to the offshore environment.
They will examine factors such as wind-speed distribution, turbulence intensity and wind shear, waves, tides, currents, temperature, lightning and ice formation, and how these factors correlate with performance and the potential cost for the design, operation and maintenance of offshore wind systems.
Full project testing on the entire slate of programs is set to begin this month. The core provisions of the public-private partnership will run through 2013, with options for two additional years of collaboration.