Tackling coats of ice

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Operation of wind turbines under icing conditions presents many challenges, several of which the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) is aiming to meet. These include ice detection, the use of ice free anemometers, coated or heated blades, and improvements in wind turbine brakes and gear boxes, possibly using waste heat from elsewhere in the nacelle. Measurements are being made from two three blade, stall controlled machines in Denmark and Finland and results with varying quantities of ice coating have already been made. The measurements reveal that power losses around 20% are incurred, even at the light icing conditions common in Britain, The Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. One consolation is that the power fluctuations are reduced due to the changed aerodynamic profile. Severe icing can reduce the mean power by over 50% and cause corresponding increases in blade loading. The project, being led by FMI under an EU Joule programme grant, also aims to examine issues of public safety due to the possibility of ice fragments being shed from the blades. The fact that most of the regions where icing occurs are quite remote, however, may mean this is a minor problem. Cold and remote regions of Northern Europe, Northern America and the Polar regions are often quite windy and represent a promising potential resource for wind energy.

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