Power and renewables

Observations of cold climate wind farm development

Observations of cold climate wind farm development

The annual Winterwind International Wind Energy conference took place recently in Åre, Sweden. Åre is situated in the county of Jämtland and is a popular downhill skiing and biking resort. It is also an area favourable for icing conditions which makes is a suitable location for Winterwind. In fact, this was the third time that Åre had hosted the conference. Of course, I was only there for the conference and not for the extracurricular activities, such as perfecting my downhill freestyle ski technique…

The slogan for Winterwind is ‘where theory meets practice.’ This is indeed true. The conference program included sixty oral and poster presentations by wind energy professionals from universities, manufacturers, developers, consultants, investors and wind farm owners. Some examples of topics covered included ice modelling and forecasting, ice throws, ice detection, ice protection systems and operations & maintenance (O&M) activities and strategies. DNV was well represented with three oral presentations covering: “validation of ice loss modelling on a turbine by turbine level”; “what drives the blockage loss for onshore wind farms”; and “advanced operational analytics using machine learning”.

The topics covered by the conference aligned with DNV’s knowledge and capabilities, therefore demonstrating that Winterwind is moving with the times to stay relevant, by providing a broad and varied platform for issues affecting Nordic projects and developers working further afield.

Two workshops were held the day before the main conference programme started. The topic of the first workshop was centred around onshore wind farm blockage effects. As many in the industry will know, blockage has been a hot topic recently, particularly for us, so it is great to see that it is now being more widely discussed. This workshop was organized by RISE (Research Institutes of Sweden) and DNV was one of the presenters, enabling us to share our views and expertise on the topic. I look forward to continuing these discussions and providing further insight.

The second workshop, organized by IEA (International Energy Agency) Task 19, of which DNV is a member, was focused on wind turbine performance warranty guidelines in icing climates. As wind farm construction increases, particularly in hasher climates, environmental considerations, such as icing, should to have greater importance particularly as ice protection systems (IPS) need to be considered as part of any warranty from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). Once again, it great to see such an important issue as this, being explored and summarized.

The key take-aways from this years’ conference were:

  • The prominence of blockage: Crucially, the industry has a consensus that blockage is an important phenomenon to consider for onshore wind projects, including in the Nordics. DNV GL has been leading the way on this topic but there is a need for more and varied voices to join the discussion.
  • An increased focus on condition monitoring: In many ways this is still an underrepresented aspect of the project lifecycle in the Nordics. DNV’s WindGEMINI aims to give operators better control over their operations.
  • Progress made in modelling ice losses: DNV’s WICE service is a leading approach to quantifying icing losses. But I feel that this topic has still not been adequately addressed to date.

Finally, it is also worth highlighting a presentation about recycling wind turbine blades. This has been a hot topic in industry recently and it’s disappointing that in a clean energy industry, such as wind, this hasn’t been addressed earlier. As usual the interplay between the drive for ever reducing costs and the lack of adequate pricing of the “externalities” can be seen (I’ll leave that for a future blog post!). In our efforts to ensure that all the energy we use comes from clean and sustainable power sources, sustainability in the supply chain should not be forgotten.