Research wind farm WiValdi inaugurated

In Krummendeich near the the Elbe estuary, a unique large-scale research facility was opened on August 15th. The research wind farm WiValdi (short for "Wind Validation"), operated by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and co-developed by ForWind and Fraunhofer IWES, consists of two state-of-the-art wind turbines packed with sensors and measuring equipment, another test turbine and five meteorological measuring masts.

"Over the past 20 years, ForWind has been involved in a great many wind energy research projects and participated in numerous measurement campaigns on land and at sea. This wealth of experience has been incorporated into the design and content planning of the wind energy research park in Krummendeich and thus forms the basis for ForWind's future research," explains turbulence expert Prof. Dr. Joachim Peinke scientific spokesman for ForWind, as researchers from all three ForWind universities (Oldenburg, Bremen and Hanover) have contributed to WiValdi.

Lower Saxony's Minister President Stephan Weil wished the new wind farm every success at the opening ceremony: "Lower Saxony is the number one wind energy state. The WiValdi research park, in which the state of Lower Saxony is participating with 16.4 million euros, demonstrates this once again. With WiValdi as a lighthouse project for energy research, we are implementing another important building block for the success of the energy transition. WiValdi is an excellent example of how we can use the opportunities of renewable energies to protect our environment with innovations, advance our economy and create jobs. I would like to thank all those involved - above all DLR and its partners ForWind and Fraunhofer IWES from the Research Alliance Wind Energy - for their forward-looking commitment."

At the heart of the test field, the only one of its kind in the world, are two conventional multi-megawatt class wind turbines, whose rotor blades reach up to a height of 150 metres. One of the turbines stands in the wake of the other. One of the most important research questions: How will turbulence from the front turbine affect the rear wind turbine? To find out, a so-called measuring mast array developed by ForWind is located between them. This arrangement is of significance for the future, because with the currently planned high expansion of new wind turbines and wind farms, the turbines will inevitably be closer together.

The arrangement of sensors specially developed for WiValdi at the University of Oldenburg makes it possible for the first time to measure the turbulent wind conditions between turbines with high temporal and spatial resolution. The measuring devices are installed on irregularly distributed booms, some of them several metres long, at the side of the masts. They are arranged in such a way that they record, for example, wind speed, temperature or humidity in detail on a vertical surface between the two wind turbines. Another measuring mast in front of the front wind turbine records the incoming wind field. The towers and rotor blades of the turbines are also equipped with measuring systems planned and developed by ForWind members at the universities of Bremen and Hanover.

"Thanks to the special configuration of the booms and the measuring instruments on the three masts, we can measure the turbulence generated by the front wind turbine with unprecedented precision," explains Peinke. For the first time, it is possible to record the turbulence on different scales. Using the data obtained, the researchers want to determine, for example, how turbines can be optimally positioned in wind farms in order to achieve the highest possible efficiency that meets the needs of the electricity grid.

The in-situ data form the basis for creating digital models of both wind farms and individual turbines, for example. "There is still a lot of potential for optimisation in the operation of wind farms, especially as the turbines are getting bigger and the wind farms more complex," Peinke emphasises. Together with the operating data of the turbines, the findings from the research wind farm will help to better understand the complex overall dynamics of the wind turbine and to be able to model and simulate them. This includes damping models, early damage detection, ice detection on the blades and material fatigue models. After about two years of construction, commissioning is currently in full swing. WiValdi has already fed electricity into the grid during trial operation. Research projects have started and initial data has been collected.

The Wind Energy Research Park is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Action (BMWK) and the Lower Saxony Ministry of Science and Culture. The Wind Energy Research Park was developed and built by DLR together with the partners of the Research Alliance Wind Energy (FVWE). The FVWE pools the know-how of around 600 researchers to provide impetus for the energy supply of the future. It consists of three participants: DLR, ForWind and the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy Systems (IWES). WiValdi is also open to the wider research community in science and industry for joint projects. - News Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg

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