SgurrControl, part of Wood Group’s clean energy business, says it has completed the two-year testing and validation of its patented Advanced Turbine Load Alleviation System (ATLAS), confirming that the solution significantly extends the life span of wind turbines by reducing blade and drivetrain loads.
According to SgurrControl, on-site testing demonstrated the potential to effectively double blade fatigue life. The 10% reduction in blade fatigue load initially modeled was validated in the test campaign. As reported, application of the findings offers even greater benefits for the life span of offshore wind turbine blades.
In addition, new wind turbine designs are expected to benefit from capital cost reductions of 5%.
The research and development project, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and Climate Change (now Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), deployed and commissioned ATLAS on the University of Minnesota’s test turbine – a 2.5 MW Clipper C96. SgurrControl says the ATLAS system was validated using field data and analysis, allowing a complete assessment of the impact and benefits.
Specifically, the company notes that ATLAS involves pitching the blades independently so that they respond actively to the varying wind field across the rotor. The existing pitch system is utilized such that no physical changes are required. The test turbine was also equipped with a blade load and acceleration measurement system, which enabled further insight into the effects of ATLAS.
Global technology firm Romax Technology partnered with SgurrControl on this project. Engineers using the wind turbine drivetrain design and simulation tool RomaxWind independently assessed the impact of ATLAS on the drivetrain and pitch bearings.
Barry James, chief technology officer at Romax, commented, “One of the most exciting aspects of this technology is its ability to be fine-tuned to match the characteristics of a given drivetrain, making it applicable to many different turbine types. This technology could have a wide-ranging, positive impact on the wind industry, with huge potential to extend wind farm life span and increase return on project investment.”
Romax also confirmed that the tests identified no detrimental effect of using ATLAS on the pitch system.