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News – What`s happening in energy research

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Laying the network cable
© DOTI 2009
Researchers and operators present joint successes
09.05.2012

International conference on the German offshore test field

The focus of an international conference in Bremerhaven on the German offshore test field alpha ventus and the RAVE research initiative is on operational experience and research results. The around 300 participants from science and industry used the three-day event to talk about their experiences and further optimisation options. Two thirds of the participants are from Germany and one third from Belgium, Denmark, France, Norway, Spain and the UK.

The RAVE (Research at alpha ventus) research initiative looks into how to generate electricity in the North Sea in an economical and reliable way. What are the effects of wind, weather and waves on nacelles, towers and rotor blades? Where is further research needed to ensure that offshore wind turbines generate electricity reliably and for the long term? How does the construction and especially the operation of the plants effect marine ecosystems? More than 150 RAVE researchers are working on making offshore wind energy a cornerstone of power supply in Germany.

Dr. Joachim Kutscher of Project Management Organisation Jülich, who has been overseeing the RAVE projects for many years, explains their goals: “RAVE oversees the construction and operation of the test field. Its aim is to optimise the use of offshore wind energy. 33 individual projects with a total budget of 51.7 million euros form a close-knit research network coordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology (IWES). The consortium as a whole includes approx. 45 institutes and companies.” Dr. Bernhard Lange, RAVE coordinator at Fraunhofer IWES, adds: “Offshore wind energy requires a broad collaborative basis on a large number of research topics. The main focus is on reducing costs, increasing yield and increasing the availability of wind turbines, technologies that integrate offshore wind energy into the electricity grid as well as accompanying ecological research.”

Other RAVE topics

In addition to improving economic efficiency, integration into the grid and accompanying ecological research, the RAVE research initiative focuses its attention on a number of other projects whose areas of research include: foundation and supporting structures, system technology, currents and turbulences in the wind farm, security and the social acceptance of wind power. The alpha ventus test field offers opportunities that are unique in the world. More than 1,200 measurement sensors provide the researchers with an accurate picture of the plants in all conditions. The measurement data are provided by a central research archive. The initiative is a national network for wind energy research that is unparalleled in Germany and elsewhere. It has international connections to the European Wind Energy Technology Platform, the European Academy of Wind Energy (EAWE) and IEA activities.

Alpha ventus with positive power balance

The alpha ventus consortium DOTI, formed by the companies EWE, E.ON and Vattenfall, has every reason to be happy about the first full year of operation 2011: the twelve wind turbines in Germany’s first offshore wind farm have fed some 267 gigawatt hours of electricity into the German transmission network. This is equivalent to 4,450 full load hours of the twelve 5-megawatt turbines. The electricity generated by alpha ventus was thus around 15 per cent above the forecast annual rate of 3,900 full load hours. “This result exceeds our expectations,” says a happy Dr. Claus Burkhardt of EWE in his capacity as DOTI general manager and head of project management. “The main reason for the outstanding electricity yield of alpha ventus in 2011 was the almost continuously excellent wind conditions in the wind farm coupled with a high level of system availability of up to 97 per cent (average technical availability was 95%). In the first quarter of 2012 the good yield situation of alpha ventus continued with a plus of approx. 10 per cent compared to the forecast.”

Portals, films and BINE Themeninfo brochures

On its website, the Fraunhofer IWES provides more information about the RAVE research initiative and the Conference. A 16-minute film in German and English is also available online. The latest 20-page BINE Themeninfo brochure “RAVE - Research on the offshore test field” provides a concise overview of the RAVE research topics system technology, accompanying ecological research and grid integration.

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