WINDHEAT is a European R&D project funded by the European Commission within the 7th Framework Programme. It will have a duration of two years (2013-2015). The overall aim of this project is to offer a cost effective solution for the ice formation in wind turbines.
Technical limitations constrain the use of wind turbines in extreme (cold) climates. These arise in Northern (Scandinavia, Scotland) as well as high altitude (Switzerland, south Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Austria…) regions in the EU. These areas often exhibit vast potential for wind energy generation and thus represent a large untapped resource. The main challenge is ice formation on the wind turbine blades which significantly reduces their performance and can ultimately cause shutdown. Power losses related to icing of 14-20% in cold climates are common. Ice formation causes significant issues with the safety, the efficiency, the lifetime and the economic viability of wind turbine technology. As a result, wind turbines are not used in harsh climates as widely as they could be, even though cold climates often offer the most potential in terms of available wind. Currently, icing is addressed with heating removal systems that are costly (use high power) and are untargeted (have limited or no accuracy capability).
WINDHEAT project will remove these limitations by improving overall energy efficiency in such environments by at least 18% (leading to a cost reduction of at least 10.5%) by minimising the energy required to remove ice on wind turbine blades, scaling down aerodynamic losses brought by icing structures and by reducing stress failures caused by heavy ice deposits. Moreover, site safety will be markedly improved by reducing the likelihood of large amounts of ice being expelled from rotating turbine blades. This will make it possible for WTs to be placed in regions which would otherwise rely on imported or non-renewable energy.