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DNV GL has released a study, commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which examines the challenges associated with manufacturing and deploying next-generation, increasingly larger land-based wind turbines.
DNV GL explored three innovation pathways to help identify high-value R&D opportunities:
  • Innovative transportation: To address physical constraints and challenges, new methods can facilitate the transportation of blades from factories to wind projects via road, rail, or air.
  • Segmented blades: Segmented or modular blades may enable the use of more cost-effective transportation, but must also account for the impacts on blade design, manufacturing, and on-site assembly.
  • On-site manufacturing: Deploying a temporary blade manufacturing factory at the project site to fabricate blades from raw materials to finished product largely eliminates transportation challenges associated with longer blades.
The acceleration of R&D to make supersized blades feasible requires collaboration between researchers in the United States, turbine manufacturers, blade manufacturers, and transportation logistics companies.
High-value R&D areas include:
  • Further advances in high-stiffness / low-cost materials like industrial carbon fiber and thermoplastics materials.
  • Advanced controls and sensor technologies that could be applied to monitor or enable blade bending in transport or monitor or control segmented blade loads such that lower-weight blades can be achieved.
  • Reducing the blade chord dimension would enable operation at higher tip speeds and improves blade transport potential, but issues related to aeroacoustics and leading-edge erosion need further improvement.  Advanced aeroelastic modelling of dynamic stability and deflections can enable the development of more slender blades that can allow controlled deflection during transport.
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