European Wind Energy Masters
The offshore wind energy market continues to make vast reductions in the cost of energy stemming from past experiences as well as new technologies. Students of the European Wind Energy Masters (EWEM) complete challenging and innovative master’s theses every year, often looking to drive down the cost of offshore wind energy even further. EWEM students, who can specialise in offshore engineering, wind physics, electrical power systems, and rotor design, have identified the most promising areas for advancement in the offshore industry.
2629 HS Delft
Students in the offshore engineering track have identified floating turbines, larger wind turbines, and lifetime extension as the main areas for research and innovation. Floating wind turbines present their own unique challenges related to installation, anchoring, and complex motion. With a large capital investment for offshore wind farms, the concept of lifetime extension becomes even more attractive. Currently, students are looking for ways to record the fatigue history which can be used to make safe and economical decisions about the lifespan of wind turbines.
The field of wind energy reaches far beyond the individual turbine. Wind physics students adapt new wind farm designs to a variety of environments and terrain. In an offshore wind turbine farm, the effect of wakes take longer to break down due to decreased turbulence. This creates a challenge in wind farm controls. Research is focusing on minimizing the effect on turbines downstream while maximising power output, leading to more efficient turbine and farm design.
Electrical power system students are dealing with the electrical challenges associated with moving farms further offshore. As turbine designs grow in size and increase in distance offshore, the transmission capacity also increases. With the increased energy production, the appropriate infrastructure must also be implemented to accommodate the energy generated. This is one of the major challenges EWEM students face in offshore electrical design.
One of the main challenges faced by the students in the rotor design track is the cubic increase in rotor blade mass. As rotor size increases, energy pay off only increases by a squared factor. With wind turbines reaching the 10MW size, new blade designs and materials will be necessary to reduce weight. Research is being conducted on the structural layout and material composition of the blades. Once designed, testing of new blade concepts moves research towards industrial readiness. New innovations in maintenance, such as robotic inspections, create opportunities to lower the cost of O&M. These blades propose a new economic promise which is of great interest to the wind energy industry.
To solve the economic challenge of creating cost effective large scale energy generation, the wind industry must continue to develop globally. EWEM prides itself in being an international program with students coming from 43 different countries around the world. Working with the international community will not only open new markets for development, but it will pull resources from across the globe to solve the challenges associated with transforming the energy system. Offshore students expect the United States of America and Japanese markets to demand floating technology and expect to rely on Europe’s expertise to assist increasing capacity.