Support structures of wind turbines, both at onshore and offshore sites, are extremely relevant components in terms of the overall cost of the wind farm. New operating conditions at onshore sites and in deep offshore waters call for the continous development of innovative and affordable technical solutions. The FVWE is tackling these challenges head-on. The availability of an internationally unrivalled test infrastructure, combined with the expertise of scientists specializing in numerical calculation and simulation, testing and manufacturing, and model validation and optimization, creates practical and quantifi able added value for OEMs, project planners and operators.
Designers are working on new materials and construction techniques that can also be validated using the existing test facilities. The tests also help identify damage processes on support structures made from steel, cast iron, concrete and hybrid materials. This means that measures can be taken in good time to increase the operating life of wind turbines. Experimental investigations have also been conducted to examine environment-induced degradation and assess the corrosion inhibiting effects of coating systems.
Optimization of Design and Construction Techniques
For foundation structures, especially in offshore applications, the FVWE is not only carrying out fundamental research on soil-structure interaction under fatigue loads, but is also developing new technical solutions for special requirements and for the cost optimization of existing concepts.
In the new test center in Hanover it is possible to achieve defined loading of the support and foundation structures right up to the ultimate limit of the load bearing capacity. Loading tests can also be carried out for a very high number of load cycles. The tests are able to determine system reserves so that the design of the structures can be adapted accordingly. Building more slender and hence lighter structures that provide the same level of stability makes for savings in material and logistics costs.
Environmentally-friendly construction techniques can also be developed and tested under realistic conditions. The driving of steel foundation piles still generates high noise levels, especially when large pipe diameters are involved. The introduction of improved construction methods will mean that new installations can be executed in a more careful and considerate manner.