Alongside the demand for turbines, there is still a considerable amount of research underway to develop ever bigger and more efficient machines, lighter structures and optimised manufacture. Consequently, there is there is pressure all along the supply chain to satisfy the dilemma of providing innovative solutions without increasing technology related risk.
In addition, due to offshore wind farms already operating in many near-shore coastal areas there is a need for turbines to be sited in greater water depths. This leads to a need for operators to develop more innovative offshore wind turbine support structures aside from monopile foundations, such as jacket structures. These jacket structures can, in turn, offer grid integration solutions by adding supporting substations and transformers to the offshore wind farms. Once the turbines are in service, there is a need for greater levels of remote condition monitoring of the support structures, towers and turbines.
There is also a need for ageing onshore wind technology assets to be assessed for remaining life, particularly with regard to the wind turbine condition and structural health of those assets that are reaching the end of their original design life.
Passive approaches to performance protection of wind resources, such as anti-fouling/anti-icing coatings for blades are also being pursued for both onshore and offshore wind resources.
TWI provides a unique and independent combination of materials, fabrication and inspection expertise.
From advanced, high productivity fabrication technology and the specification of corrosion protection standards, to structural integrity assessment and failure investigation TWI offers support to wind power operators, developers and OEMs at every stage of the project life-cycle.
In addition to an unrivalled track record in areas such as fatigue assessments and consultancy of welded and bolted structures such as towers and jacket structures, TWI can advise on the inspection and integrity of composites and metal-to-composite joints. We can also assess the fatigue performance of high-strength steel mooring chains used on floating offshore structures, including wind turbines. These tests are carried out in seawater to simulate the typical corrosion conditions and cyclic loading experienced offshore.
This expertise in implementing industry best practice and technology transfer is constantly updated through an extensive wind research R&D programme covering topics such as NDT of blades, remote condition monitoring techniques, and the development of anti-icing and anti-fouling coatings for structures and blades.
TWI's work is instrumental in supporting the UK department of energy's requirements to cost effectively deliver manufacturing, fabrication and asset management for the renewable energy sector.
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