Wind farms emerging inland and offshore, larger turbines drive windmill blade demand

04-Aug-10
As wind farms spring up inland and offshore and turbines get larger, so demand is increasing on windmill blade manufacturers. This will be discussed at the new AMI global conference on Wind Turbine Blade Manufacture, which takes place 7-9 December 2010 in Düsseldorf. The event starts with a review by LM Wind Power of blade requirements for increasing energy output. Win Wind Power Energy is a leading manufacturer in India and will outline the set up of new plant. The global economic downturn has placed pressures on the industry to keep costs down and provide higher performance blades in terms of weatherability and durability. There have been well-documented cases of failure and these are being studied so that expensive shut downs can be reduced or, ideally, avoided. Vestas Wind Systems has the mission statement that Failure is not an option and is moving to Six Sigma targets of 3.4 defects per million opportunities by 2015. In North America, Clipper Windpower has in turn developed robust manufacturing of MW blades. In terms of design, Knight and Carver Wind Group has a sweep twist adaptive rotor-passive load control, developed to meet the current needs. The intensive manual nature of production is under scrutiny as automation could reduce time and improve quality. Efficient, low energy, automated systems have been set up by Solent Composite Systems. In Denmark Fiberline Composites has researched more efficient methods for production of blade subcomponents. EireComposites Teo is involved in cutting edge research using high temperature tooling and VOC-free reactive polymer composites. The larger blade size has brought design and manufacturing challenges, from cure times to the choice of reinforcement. The time for resin to infuse can be an issue in large blades and BASF has been addressing this with new epoxy systems. Owens Corning will describe the latest cost reduction methods for using glass fibre. Carbon fibre offers some benefits over glass fibre but comes at a higher price. SGL Rotec and SGL Technologies will outline the use of carbon fibre composites in blades from the unique combined perspectives of a blade maker and a carbon fibre supplier. Core materials are also under scrutiny and a new cellular core is being developed by blade manufacturer Euros Entwicklungsgesellschaft fuer Windkraftanlagen. As blades have increased in size so has the potential for error in manufacturing – Vesper is looking at process monitoring and control in production. One of the world’s leading research centres, Ris? DTU, has studied the permissible levels of defects during manufacturing. NAREC in the UK, where the wind market is expected to expand rapidly, is carrying out fatigue and static testing of blades for 5MW plus turbines to international standards. There is extensive work in blade maintenance worldwide. CP Max Rotortechnik is in this business and has reviewed the damage to turbine blades on wind farms and the causes. There are global research projects on factors such as icing of blades and the latest work will be highlighted by Windren. Lightning is another common problem in the field and international standards are in place for blades – this will be reviewed by TestingLabs of Denmark. Experts from top wind turbine and blade manufacturing companies will be speaking at Wind Turbine Blade Manufacture 2010. The conference offers a meeting point for the industry to debate business trends and improvements in materials and production. It provides a unique opportunity to network with the wide range of professionals who work with and produce wind turbine blades worldwide.
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