New wind partnership to drive turbine efficiency

A new research hub in the UK aims to accelerate the development of next-gen turbine blades. The £2.3 million Wind Blade Research Hub (WBRH) is a partnership between the Offshore […]

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By Jonny Bairstow

A new research hub in the UK aims to accelerate the development of next-gen turbine blades.

The £2.3 million Wind Blade Research Hub (WBRH) is a partnership between the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult and the University of Bristol, which hope it will allow larger and more powerful wind turbines to be manufactured.

The five-year project plans to design and create more efficient blades to harness more energy from the wind, which will prove crucial to the industry’s plan of nearly doubling the power of each offshore wind turbine from around 8MW today to 15MW by 2025.

It is also expected that the WBRH will provide blueprints for future collaborations between industry and academia in areas such as electrical infrastructure and turbine foundations and powertrains.

A group of students and lecturers from the University of Bristol will work alongside the ORE Catapult’s research team.

Phase one of the programme will investigate materials and manufacturing technology, blade integrity, blade design and performance.

Dr Stephen Wyatt, ORE Catapult’s Research and Disruptive Innovation Director, said: “Producing ever larger turbines means manufacturing even longer blades – something which pushes current technology to the very limit.

“As such, these longer blades will need to be constructed using new designs, materials and new construction and manufacturing processes – and these new blades will need to be tested and validated. The WBRH provides a mechanism for pulling all of these different strands together.”

The global wind operations and maintenance (O&M) market is forecast to double to around $27.4 billion (£21.7bn) by 2025.