As a result of the rapid expansion of wind energy in Germany – both onshore and offshore – wind energy facilities are required to make an increasingly large contribution to energy security. An important aspect here is the provision of balancing energy. This is required to compensate for short-term imbalances between production and consumption. In the past, this imbalance was compensated for with fossil fuels, because neither the regulations nor the technical prerequisites enabled system security through wind energy. The question of how balancing energy can be made available at short notice in future is one of the topics the CC4E is investigating.
A large share of the research also examines the optimisation of the yield and lifespan of wind farms. What is unique here is that the research utilises the real turbines in our Curslack Research Wind Farm, which is directly connected to the Energy Campus Technology Centre. The findings obtained here can be transferred to new wind farm projects. A particularly important topic is, for example, the investigation of wind-shadow turbulence and the effect it has on the mutual interaction of wind turbines. Through intelligent sector management, the burdens on subsequent turbines can be reduced and wind farm layouts can be optimised. As part of the research on turbine efficiency, the focus is on increasing turbine reliability while simultaneously reducing the amount of material used. This will make it easier to predict instances of damage as precisely as possible and ultimately reduce outages. A condition monitoring system installed in the research wind farm provides support in this respect.
One innovative research approach is the development of designs for multi-rotor and two-blade wind turbines. The aim is, on the one hand, to adapt the design of wind turbines to their surroundings and the forces that influence them as well as possible and, on the other, to develop maintenance-friendly designs in order to reduce service and repair costs. In connection with the two-blade turbines, floating platforms that would enable the next generation of wind farms to be located in deep-sea locations are also being investigated.
An additional area of research is the acoustic optimisation of wind turbines' gearbox and generator housing. The goal is not only to reduce noise, but also to utilise the acoustics for early warning error recognition. To achieve this, the CC4E research team is working with a weather-resistant acoustic camera using MEMS (microelectronic mechanical systems) microphones optimised for continuous measurement. Though the focus is different, there is a content-related connection to the virtual auralisation of the research wind farm. The emphasis is on the audiovisual (sound) landscape, which reproduces the noises in the wind farm and its surroundings. In addition, a so-called noise watchdog is intended to measure wind turbines' noise emissions in real time and automatically link the results with the regulation of the wind farm to optimise noise-reduced operations. Through this work, the CC4E has created an important interface for academic and public communication.