Ending of the Azimut project that will enable the development of a 15 MW offshore wind turbine in 2020

The Azimut Project has finalized successfully with important progress in technological advances, new materials, simulation tools and a web application.

Eleven Spanish companies and 22 research centers, coordinated by Gamesa, have joined forces on the Azimut Project to enable the development of world’s largest capacity wind turbine by 2020.

The Azimut project, which aims to enable the development of world’s largest capacity wind turbine by 2020, has successfully completed their applied research activities undertaken during the last 4 years. The project has reached the objective of generating knowledge as well as key technologies that will enable the development of a turbine with unit capacity of 15 MW. This turbine will be capable of overcoming the technical and financial hurdles currently limiting the rollout of offshore wind energy, such as availability and cost of energy.

The initiative brings together 11 companies, coordinated by Gamesa, which include Acciona Windpower, Alstom Wind, Acciona Energía, Iberdrola Renovables, Ingeteam, Imatia, Ingeciber, Digsilent Iberica, Técnicas Reunidas, and Tecnitest.

With a 30.3 million euro budget spanning its 4-year duration, this project, under the CENIT program of the CDTI, depending of the Spanish Ministry of Economy, has allowed Spanish industry to fetch technology leadership positions in wind energy generation in marine environments, and helping European countries to comply with the target set by the European Commission of 27% of energy consumption from renewable sources by 2030.

Upon its completion in December 2013, the different companies have obtained important results in key areas mainly developing new technologies, testing process and models, and creating a new web application.

Main R&D results by each participating company

Regarding new materials, a new resin with improved properties for the manufacture of blades has been identified by GAMESA, along with technologies for the precise detection of the advancing front of the resin flow in infusion moulds. It has also been obtained a passive coating to be applied in wind turbine blades with anti-icing properties and extremely high resistant to erosion, called BladeshieldTM.

In regards to corrosive offshore environments, GAMESA has defined the taxonomy of defects as well as the most suitable protection means, leading to a laboratory-scale prototype of a corrosion monitoring system on both the harshness of the environment, and the state of the protective coating.

In the application of superconductors, GAMESA has identified the optimal cryogenic materials and equipment as well as tests for evaluating them.

ACCIONA WINDPOWER has gone through a thorough revision of different concepts for multi MW wind turbines, carrying out a comparison in terms of cost, weight and performance of some of the most promising ones.

– For this purpose, some design and calculation tools have been developed which comprise, among others: an analytical design tool able to provide preliminary electromagnetic, thermal and mechanical design of permanent magnet generators that has been validated using FEM tools and a laboratory measurements in a small scale PM generator;

– An evolutionary algorithm design tool to optimize the blade design (both the aerodynamic and the structural properties) which objective is to maximize the annual energy production (AEP) subjected to some constraints such as blade mass and blade maximum;

– A fatigue estimator for the drive train that gives as a result the remaining load capability of a gearbox and other rotating parts. This tool can be implemented online for controlling the production of wind turbine and checking the adequacy of loads with a high degree of accuracy, key aspect in far offshore wind farms.

ALSTOM WIND has developed the characterization and validation, through wind tunnel measurements, of thick profiles for large offshore blades, which will help to enable the achievement of the required rotor diameters for 15MW.

ACCIONA ENERGÍA successfully managed to develop several simulation tools, which allow i.e. the evaluation of electrical grids within offshore wind farms, the planning of Operation and Maintenance activities for Wind farms and the evaluation of radar impact by them.

A series of tests have been performed successfully that allow optimizing design aspects for floating foundations in various design aspects.

Design optimization and the research for logistics and installation will render CoE reductions.

Environmental studies provided a deeper insight of offshore windfarms´ impact on marine life and biodiversity (i.e. underwater noise on the populations of red tuna).

IBERDROLA has worked along with ACCIONA Energía and the Environmental Hydraulics Institute of Cantabria in the development of a methodology and software tool that predicts the short-term (15 days) evolution of the eventual biohazard spill produced by offshore wind farms through a combination of analogy techniques with stochastic processes.

Additionally, cooperation with Globalforecaster has focused on optimizing the application of a mesoscale model for surface wind field simulation in marine sites in the area of the Cantabrian coast. The experiments on the sensitivity of the wind field model conducted have managed to obtain its optimal configuration, and validate and simulate the wind field in the area of interest.

INGETEAM has filed two patents on multilevel conversion topologies. They have also undertaken the development of control algorithms for multiphase machines that enable optimal use of converters and tolerance to failures.

IMATIA has developed statistical analysis and simulation techniques to help experts design offshore O&M plans that maximize energy production while minimizing costs. In addition to that, it has generated intelligent algorithms that allow automatic optimization of the O&M tasks, managing resources, strategies, costs and meteocean information, throughout the entire lifecycle of an offshore windfarm.

INGECIBER conducted an investigation (benchmarking) of new mathematical models and existing CAE tools in order to analyze offshore structures. It has also contributed with ACCIONA ENERGÍA to the study and simulation of Von Karman’s vortex shedding with CFD and meshless tools at the critical and super-critical regimen, and SCF (stress concentration factor) in off-shore platforms with FEM software.

DIgSILENT has released its GridCode V2, incorporating new features and enhancements related to the analysis of compliance with grid code requirements of conventional and renewable power plants, specifically related to offshore wind farms. Sophisticated algorithms have been incorporated like the Prony analysis for oscillation mode detection and ultimate model validation methods.

Moreover, a new application has been designed and developed: The Web Application for Grid Code Tracking. The grid code information, country by country, has been loaded in a database, accessible through a web application. Special functions have been defined to store specific requirements for offshore. Registered customers may access it through the DIgSILENT Ibérica website (www.digsilentiberica.es).

Among the contributions of TÉCNICAS REUNIDAS is the concept-demonstration of a new energy storage technology based on a zinc / air flow battery to increase wind energy penetration. It has also generated new insights on electrodes, membranes and electrolytes for zinc / air batteries. Additionally, it has carried out the implementation of a flow battery test bench.

TECNITEST has worked on optimizing a waterless/liquidless coupling for inspections using ultrasonic techniques (UT) for towers (welding/defects/damages), developing and using a new rubber that enables coupling improving state of the art properties.

Through this project, participating companies have reinforced their commitment to research and development in offshore wind energy as a vehicle for achieving global technological leadership and contributing to the generation of offshore wind energy in a reliable, economically sound manner with the utmost respect for the natural environment.