Even today, wind energy is a key pillar in our energy supply. And with the industry growing all the time, there is an increasing demand for first-class engineering. On top of this, there are many parallels with automotive engineering, e.g. in control technology. This is why IAV is stepping up its involvement in this segment – with a booth at the “WindEnergy” expo in fall at Hamburg, for example. The aim is to industrialize new ideas faster and further increase the efficiency of wind power plants.
Much scientific discourse of recent years has focused on wind energy and ways of making even better use of this eco-friendly and inexhaustible source of energy in future with innovative automation solutions. This is where IAV comes in as a bridge builder between the latest developments in research and their implementation in practice at volume production level. “For many years now, we have been specializing in quickly and reliably industrializing new automation concepts”, says Dr. Axel Schild, expert in energy automation solutions at IAV. “This is why, in future, we also want to help the manufacturers of wind power plants to get innovative approaches ready for industrial use and onto the market in a short time.” The central challenges include increasing plant output and reliably connecting decentralized wind turbines, with their fluctuating production, to the power grid.
Control engineering of is key significance
One area that has a lot in common with automotive development is control engineering as a key element in ensuring the reliability and operating efficiency of wind power plants. IAV knows and utilizes the latest developments in research and technology – knowledge that has been going into new solutions at automobile manufacturers and component suppliers for many years. “We are already in discussions with several wind turbine manufacturers on how to engage in profitable cooperation with the broad expertise we have in the field of control engineering”, Schild reports.
IAV’s aim is to create a complete development platform for automating wind energy plants. Instead of each maintaining its own software for controlling their plants, the manufacturers could in future use a comprehensive modular function kit from IAV to create a solution tailored to their requirements – by calibrating it to suit their particular needs and using their own manufacturer-specific function modules.
Additional competencies complement the service portfolio
Besides automation, the powertrain in the wind turbine or plant data management can also benefit from automotive expertise. This also applies to sensors and actuators: IAV has the requisite testing infrastructure and can help its customers to use components from the automotive segment in their products. “The high production volumes make such sensors and actuators relatively inexpensive which would further reduce the cost of wind power”, says Mike Eichhorn, head of department at IAV. “We can then offer our customers from the wind power segment a broad range of products and development services to suit their needs.”
Customer projects and research activities
Initial projects are already underway: On behalf of a customer, an automation module is currently being produced that will provide a reliable online estimation of non-measurable plant variables and parameter that can be used beneficially in wind plant automation. In addition, IAV is planning to get involved as lead partner in a publicly funded research project to enhance the operational control of wind power plants. In preparation for this role, IAV has already teamed up with its Industrial Science subsidiary and developed an in-house engineering suite to resolve problems in the field of simulating and controlling wind power plants. “We are anticipating constantly growing demand for innovative automation solutions. Ever larger plants are calling for new approaches in control engineering for actively reducing structural loads. Several manufacturers have realized that IAV can be a valuable partner in developing new automation concepts and provide comprehensive technology expertise”, Schild says. “Here, and in matters of grid stability, we can put our experience to particularly good use.”
IAV is presenting its technology portfolio – also on the basis of prototype example solutions developed in primary research – at the “WindEnergy” expo (September 27 to 30, 2016 in Hamburg) and will be engaging in discussions with customers on ways of using it in the wind power segment. Here – as in automotive development – the company is following a systematic approach that extends from the initial concept to using new solutions in industrial volume production.
The “WindEnergy” expo on the Internet: