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LM Wind Power and the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult announce collaboration on an innovative blade testing method, reducing fatigue test time by up to 50%

Published 16 November 2015

Global wind turbine blade manufacturer LM Wind Power and the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, the UK’s flagship technology innovation and research centre for offshore wind, wave and tidal energy, today announced a strategic collaboration. The two leading players in offshore are developing an innovative blade test method that could help to reduce overall blade test times by up to 25% and potentially almost halve the time for the fatigue-testing alone.

Testing of critical components, like wind turbine blades, often lasts several months to simulate 20-25 years of lifetime. Now LM Wind Power together with ORE Catapult have embarked on an innovative partnership aiming to develop shorter and more cost effective blade tests.

The project initiated by ORE Catapult set out to optimise the test design and develop a faster and even more precise method for conducting the flapwise and edgewise fatigue testing simultaneously on the same blade.

This new test method will also have significant benefits in terms of time reductions and cost advantages, not least for the larger blades for offshore. The fatigue analysis software, developed by ORE Catapult in collaboration with Durham University and utilising extensive data from LM Wind Power, was recently certified by DNV GL.

The programme is now moving into the testing phase, for which LM Wind Power has delivered the 40.3 meter blade that will undergo full-scale testing using the bi-axial testing technology at ORE Catapult’s facility in Blyth, Northumberland in the UK.

LM Wind Power has more than 25 years of offshore blade experience and is a leader in the sector with blades on 50% of the installed offshore turbines of 5 MW+.

ORE Catapult has invested a total of £150 million in integrated research and testing facilities for the offshore renewable energy industries, and have developed an independent state-of-the-art facility to support blade manufacturers to verify new blade designs and to bring their products to market.

“It is crucial that we continue to innovate and improve in every stage of the development and manufacture of offshore wind turbines to reduce the Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) and ensure the expansion of offshore wind in the UK, Europe and beyond. The collaboration with a world-class research and test institution such as ORE Catapult cements our position as an offshore industry leader and enforces our commitment to innovation and to further developing the sector to the benefit of developers, consumers and the environment,” said LM Wind Power’s VP Offshore, Alexis Crama.

ORE Catapult Director of Innovation & Research, Ignacio Marti, added:

“Great strides have been made in reducing the cost of offshore wind generation, but it is only through world-class, collaborative innovation and research such as this exciting project that we will continue to deliver such progress, to ensure a secure, affordable low-carbon energy supply and considerable economic benefit.”

The successful collaboration between LM Wind Power and ORE Catapult has paved the way for further research projects aiming to reduce the LCOE of offshore wind. These will be subject to further announcements.