What research are Wind power CTOs looking for in the research community

Wednesday 27 Nov 19


Ignacio Martí
Head of Division
DTU Wind Energy
+45 46 77 54 67
From the session "How Chief Technology Officers see the scale-up."

Automation and manufacturing, new materials and mesoscale modelling of offshore wind power plants and clusters. These were the top-of-the-list wishes from the CTOs to the research organisations and academia when asked where they would like to see the research community focus. 

The wish list came as part of a discussion among a select group of CTOs discussed the challenges of scaling up and further industrializing the offshore wind turbine technology. Moderated by former CTO and current serial energy entrepreneur – and DTU Wind Energy Affiliate Professor – Henrik Stiesdal, the discussion zoomed in on the challenges in further upscaling offshore turbines, the trade-off between scale and industrialization and the need for incremental research and innovation to drive down cost. 

Logistics and supply chain challenges major obstacle to further upscaling

There was widespread agreement between the CTOs that with the current available technologies, the major barrier to continued upscaling of turbines above the current size of 12MW is the challenges to the supply chain and the logistics involved in transporting and installing these huge machines. 

DTU Wind Energy is working towards upscaling wind turbines beyond the actual size while ensuring cost of energy keeps the trend towards lower cost, says Ignacio Martí, Head of Section after the session:

"I think we will see turbine size reaching close to 20 MW and then drop down to settle below 20MW"
Sven Utermöhlen, Senior Vice President Renewables Operations Innogy SE

“Upscaling wind turbines presents some of the technical and scientific challenges that we are focusing on,” he says and continues: 

“Enabling quick time to market of large scale wind turbines and components through innovative testing and accurate design tools are key areas for DTU Wind Energy.”

Torben Hvid Larsen, CTO of MHI Vestas, mentioned the recent transport of the 10MW MHI Vestas turbine from Hanstholm Harbour to the National Test Centre in Østerild (DK) which is run by DTU Wind Energy. As he explained, transporting the 10MW showed the practical limitations we are facing. If we need to transport much bigger turbines, we will either have to evacuate a large number of houses along the transportation route or we will need to dig a canal and transport them this way. 

Significant potential in industrialization and standardisation

The trade-off between upscaling and industrialization led to the discussion about the need for incremental innovation, especially regarding manufacturing and standardization. Morten Rasmussen, CTO of Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy emphasized that there is “so much potential in industrialization and standardization” while Sven Utermöhler added that the cost reduction potential in more autonomous turbines requiring less maintenance and especially maintenance requiring manpower on site. 

Levelised cost of energy not the only driver in new markets

The upscaling of turbines is largely driven by the demand for lower levelised cost of energy in existing markets in Europe. However, both Christina Aabo, Head of R&D Windpower at Ørsted, and Sven Utermöhler stressed that while LCOE is key in existing markets, other factors come into play in new markets. In many offshore wind markets, countries wish to ensure local content and built up the local supply chain. In these cases, the largest turbines can be a significant challenge to establish these new supply chains and relatively smaller turbines will be preferred. 

Speakers: Henrik Stiesdal (moderator), Torben Hvid Larsen, Vicent Schellings, Morten Pilgaard Rasmussen, Sven Utermöhlen, Christina Aabo.

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