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BB200605, EWEA Activities

UpWind - The Largest Ever EU-Funded Wind Energy Research Project Gets Under Way

31.01.2007

Over 100 wind energy specialists gathered in Brussels to kick off the largest ever long-term wind energy research project to receive funding from the EU.

UpWind is an “Integrated Project” - a type of financing instrument introduced under the Sixth Framework Programme for R&D (FP6) – which involves some forty manufacturers, service providers, universities, research organisations and other professional organisations, who will together endeavour to explore and resolve design limits for very large wind turbines to be built after 2010.

With a budget of over €22million and EC funding of over €14 million, UpWind is the flagship of European collaborative research into wind turbine development, and is the result of a two year proposal process. It will last five years.

UpWind will open up new technological opportunities to help the wind energy sector step forward towards cost parity with the most cost effective energy sources, via new and more efficient turbine design methods. UpWind looks towards wind power tomorrow; towards the design of very large turbines (>8MW) standing in wind farms of several hundred megawatts, both on- and offshore, producing comparable power to that of a conventional power station.

The challenges inherent in the creation of such power stations necessitate the highest possible standards in design; complete understanding of external design conditions; the design of materials with extremely high strength to mass ratios; and advanced control and measuring systems – all geared towards the highest degree of reliability, and, critically, reduced overall turbine mass.

Such developments necessitate the re-evaluation of the core unit of a wind energy power plant, the turbine itself, for its re-conception to cope with future challenges. UpWind will develop the accurate, verified tools and component concepts the industry needs to design and manufacture this new breed of turbine.

The initiation of the UpWind project comes after years of planning by the wind energy sector. Long-term commitment from EU and national R&D programmes has been instrumental in the dominance of the European industry, yet support for wind energy R&D under the Sixth Research Framework Programme was severely reduced. The sector responded by establishing a Think Tank on IPs, led by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), which called for the inclusion of an integrated project for wind energy in the third call of FP6.

“We are very glad that UpWind has had such a good start. It is the largest project of its kind and yet it represents just a tiny proportion of the work that has to be done. We hope to see a lot more projects like this,” said EWEA’s Hugo Chandler.

“The project is going to be a great challenge,” said Peter Hjuler Jensen of Risø National Laboratory, who heads the project, “the work will be divided into 15 work packages, each involving a different aspect of research, and each very complicated, so we had to innovate a lot in the management practices.”

So-called “Integration Work Packages” have been specifically designed to develop synergies among the distinct, scientific strands of the research, reflecting the European Commission’s objective in introducing this kind of project – to bring stakeholders to work closer together, and share their findings.

Jos Beurskens, of the Energy research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN), who leads the scientific management of the project, said “Participants were very satisfied with the days’ work, and felt that the innovative management practices of the consortium will enable effective work to be done. The event was a real success – and not least of all thanks to the very great efforts of our partners. This first event is a positive sign for this important and complicated partnership.”

The findings of the project will be actively disseminated throughout the wind energy sector via, among other media, a custom built website, to be launched in in early summer.

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