Field Research Shows Icing Can Cost Wind Turbines Up to 80% of Power Production

Ridgetop Wind Farm China

Researchers took to the sphere to check icing on this ridgetop wind farm in japanese China. Credit score: Photograph courtesy of Hui Hu/Iowa State College

Researchers led by Iowa State’s Hui Hu took their research of wind-turbine icing out of the lab and into the sphere to find out how and the place ice accumulates on rotating blades. They realized ice on the blades can scale back energy manufacturing by as much as 80%. The sphere research additionally validated their experimental findings, theories and predictions.

Wind turbine blades spinning via chilly, moist circumstances can accumulate ice almost a foot thick on the yard-wide suggestions of their blades.

That disrupts blade aerodynamics. That disrupts the steadiness of your entire turbine. And that may disrupt vitality manufacturing by as much as 80 %, in response to a just lately printed subject research led by Hui Hu, Iowa State College’s Martin C. Jischke Professor in Aerospace Engineering and director of the college’s Plane Icing Physics and Anti-/De-icing Know-how Laboratory.

Hu has been doing laboratory research of turbine-blade icing for about 10 years, together with performing experiments within the distinctive ISU Icing Analysis Tunnel. A lot of that work has been supported by grants from the Iowa Vitality Heart and the Nationwide Science Basis.

“However we all the time have questions on whether or not what we do within the lab represents what occurs within the subject,” Hu mentioned. “What occurs over the blade surfaces of huge, utility-scale wind generators?”

Everyone knows about one factor that just lately occurred within the subject. Wind energy and different vitality sources froze and failed in Texas throughout final month’s winter storm.

Looking for a subject website

Hu wished to quantify what occurs on wind farms throughout winter climate and so a number of years in the past started organizing a subject research. However that was extra difficult than he anticipated. Even in Iowa, the place some 5,100 wind generators produce greater than 40% of the state’s electrical energy (in response to the U.S. Vitality Info Affiliation), he wasn’t given entry to generators. Vitality firms often don’t need their turbine efficiency information to go public.

So Hu – who had made connections with researchers on the Faculty of Renewable Vitality at North China Electrical Energy College in Beijing as a part of an Worldwide Analysis Experiences for College students program funded by the Nationwide Science Basis – requested if Chinese language wind farms would cooperate.

Ice on Wind Turbine Blade

This drone picture from a subject research of icing on wind generators exhibits how ice accrued on the tip of a turbine blade throughout a winter storm. Credit score: Photograph courtesy of Hui Hu/Iowa State College

Operators of a 34-turbine, 50-megawatt wind farm on a mountain ridgetop in japanese China agreed to a subject research in January 2019. Hu mentioned many of the generators generate 1.5 megawatts of electrical energy and are similar to the utility-scale generators that function in the US.

As a result of the wind farm the researchers studied isn’t removed from the East China Sea, Hu mentioned the wind generators there face icing circumstances extra like these in Texas than in Iowa. Iowa wind farms are uncovered to colder, drier winter circumstances; when winter chilly drops to Texas, wind farms there are uncovered to extra moisture due to the close by Gulf of Mexico.

Measuring the ice

As a part of their subject work, the researchers used drones to take photographs of 50-meter-long turbine blades after publicity to as much as 30 hours of icy winter circumstances, together with freezing rain, freezing drizzle, moist snow, and freezing fog.

The images allowed detailed measurement and analyses of how and the place ice collected on the turbine blades. Hu mentioned the photographs additionally allowed researchers to check pure icing to laboratory icing and largely validated their experimental findings, theories, and predictions.

The photographs confirmed, “Whereas ice accreted over whole blade spans, extra ice was discovered to accrete on outboard blades with the ice thickness reaching as much as 0.3 meters (almost 1 foot) close to the blade suggestions,” the researchers wrote in a paper just lately printed on-line by the journal Renewable Vitality. (See sidebar for the total analysis staff.)

The researchers used the generators’ built-in management and data-acquisition methods to check operation standing and energy manufacturing with ice on the blades towards extra typical, ice-free circumstances.

“That tells us what’s the large deal, what’s the impact on energy manufacturing,” Hu mentioned.

The researchers discovered that icing had a serious impact:

“Regardless of the excessive wind, iced wind generators have been discovered to rotate a lot slower and even shut down continuously throughout the icing occasion, with the icing-induced energy loss being as much as 80%,” the researchers wrote.

Which means Hu will proceed to work on one other space of wind-turbine analysis – discovering efficient methods to de-ice the blades so that they maintain spinning, and the electrical energy retains flowing, all winter lengthy.

Reference: “A subject research of ice accretion and its results on the ability manufacturing of utility-scale wind generators” by Linyue Gao, Tao Tao, Yongqian Liu and Hui Hu, 7 December 2020, Renewable Vitality.
DOI: 10.1016/j.renene.2020.12.014

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