How Do Frozen Wind Turbines Still Operate Successfully?

Image by Ed White from Pixabay

Winter is known as the best season for wind power! The winds pack a bigger punch, and with the increased density in the air, the climate becomes colder, propelling more force to the turbine blades.

The Effect of Icing on Wind Turbines

Even the lightest layer of ice can dramatically impact the efficiency of wind turbines. In turn, they are not able to supply as much power as they would in warmer temperatures, making it an aerodynamic nightmare!

As a result, power-supply companies run the risk of losses surmounting up to 20% on an annual basis. Apart from the adverse financial impact, these companies are also prone to failures in the form of replacement parts for the turbines. This is due to the parts being exposed to the icy elements, resulting in their efficiency deteriorating.

So what is the solution? Yes! De-ice the blades – but the question is how?

De-Icing Solutions for Wind Turbines

Before even unpacking possible de-icing solutions, it has to be mentioned that there are different types of ice, meaning that different solutions are needed or a generic one. In order to accomplish this, one would need a keen understand and in-depth analysis of the formation of ice as well as how that impacts the blades of wind turbines.

Currently, a series of wind tunnel tests are being performed by aerospace engineers at Iowa State University. By employing drones, they have a view of these wind turbines that towers and can take photos of how the ice forms and the behavior of the turbines in this scenario.

Their aim is to employ both de-icing and anti-icing technologies to achieve the desired outcome when it comes to a feasible solution. By means of applying heat to the edges of the blades in just the right locations, this novel technique can go a long way in providing practical strategies to overcome this phenomenon and save the wind turbine suppliers millions of dollars annually.

There’s no doubt that with this exciting development on the horizon that we are yet to see big things in the making.

Bianca Van der Watt

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