£450,000 clone of 7-MW Fife wind turbine to generate ‘go-faster’ data to help major manufacturers cut costs

The 7MW Levenmouth turbine
The Levenmouth turbine

A £450,000 digital ‘clone’ of the 7-MW Levenmouth demonstration wind turbine in Fife is to be built in Scotland to provide accurate operations data – which will help the (mostly German, Spanish and Danish) manufacturers to improve their turbine performance and cut costs.

The project – with £215,000 funding support from the Scot-Govt – will enable OREC (the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult) to fit instruments to the turbine blades, tower and substructure to monitor its behaviour in real-world conditions.

It will then use the outputs to validate the current design methodologies and tools available for building large-scale offshore wind turbines, reducing design inefficiencies and flaws.

A spokesman for Glasgow-based OREC said: “With the rapid scale in growth of offshore wind turbines, and with 8MW machines now being readily deployed and the industry looking to develop 10MW turbines, industry needs to rethink and revalidate assumptions associated with offshore wind turbine designs.

“Deploying sensors on the Levenmouth turbine gives us a unique opportunity to understand the behaviour of a large turbine in real-world conditions, and benefit the industry, its supply chain and academia.

“Having a validated model is crucial for understanding the impact of design decisions in the weight and cost of different components of the turbine”.

Professor Bill Leithead, Chairman of Supergen Wind, commented: “Turbine instrumentation has the potential to support a number of vital research projects for the offshore wind industry, and position the UK academic research community at the heart of European wind research.

“This project will enable unique research opportunities to explore the interactions between the turbine and its environment, and also the impact this has on elements such as the tower, foundations and blades, allowing turbine design to be streamlined and improved.”

Ben Wysome, Head of Ramboll’s UK offshore wind team, commented: “We are convinced that monitoring offshore wind turbines in structured and standardised way will make offshore structures safer, allow operators to optimise inspections, and provide reliable data on the remaining useful lifetime of foundations – all of which will contribute to further reducing the cost of energy from offshore wind.” 

On a visit to Levenmouth, Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “Over the longer term, Scotland will need to move from fossil fuels to renewable sources. This represents a huge opportunity as the country looks to increase vastly its demand for renewable electricity and heat.

“This is why we must have a workforce with the skills needed to help grow this industry and this kind of project is exactly what we are looking for to boost the renewable energy sector and Scotland’s economy.”

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