Starting shot for the interdisciplinary research project SOWINDIC


Efficient electricity generation in wind turbines with intelligent rotor blade heaters

On the recently started research project SOWINDIC - Smart Operation of Wind Turbines under Icing Conditions - an interdisciplinary team of experts from VERBUND, AIT Austrian Institute of Technology, the University of Vienna and Meteotest is investigating the operation of intelligent rotor blade heaters in wind turbines. These are intended to enable efficient electricity production, especially at wintry temperatures.

Wind energy is Austria’s second most important alternative source energy. However, the alpine climate frequently causes the rotor blades of the wind turbines to freeze up in the winter months. When that happens, the wind turbines have to be shut down until they thaw naturally, or artificially by means of rotor blade heaters. There are several reasons for this:

  • the ice changes the aerodynamic properties of the rotor blades, causing the wind turbine to operate less efficiently;
  • the icing increases mechanical wear and the turbine service life decreases; 
  • ice that breaks off poses a danger to humans and animals.

A shutdown causes production losses, the extent of which cannot be estimated in advance. To nevertheless ensure a stable electricity supply, the generating companies have to additionally purchase expensive electricity or resort to conventional power plants such as, for example, gas power plants.

Intelligent rotor blade heaters

In a consortium under the leadership of VERBUND - funded by the Climate and Energy Fund - experts are now working hand in hand on developing an intelligent decision-making algorithm on the basis of weather data, weather forecasts, operational and SCADA data (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition). The goal is to heat the rotor blades optimally, i.e. also preventively, in order to also enable more efficient and sustainable energy generation in winter.

Ingun Metelko Ingun Metelko

Company Spokesperson

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