Wind power: there are also smart wind turbines

Improving load control on wind turbines during operations in order to increase system efficiency and overall plant reliability. This is the objective of all the major wind turbine manufacturers.

To this regard, a highly innovative project was launched in Denmark by LM Glasfiber, a wind blade manufacturer, which to this end has started a joint venture with Riso DTU and NKT Photonics, supported by the Danish National Technology Foundation.

Under the project, LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) systems will be directly integrated into the wind turbines.

These systems, which use distant monitoring techniques, allow to determine the behaviour of a surface by means of laser impulses. They are expected to play a significant role in the construction of “smart” turbine blades, capable of adjusting autonomously to changing wind conditions.

Current monitoring techniques are based on subsequent analyses: they study how a wind turbine has reacted to specific conditions. The LIDAR systems will therefore imply a significant technological leap, allowing a real-time turbine adjustment to changing weather conditions. LM Glasfiber expects that this technolgoy will cause wind energy generation to increase by at least 5%.

The construction of the first wind turbine blade with an integrated LIDAR system is expected to take place in 2012, and possibly it will be commercialized from 2014.

LM Glasfiber expects to be able to supply its customers with LIDAR-enabled intelligent blades by 2014.