A test site for wind energy research

The WindForS Wind Energy Resarch Cluster is constructing a platform for wind energy research at the Stöttener Berg near Geislingen an der Steige/Swabian Alb (Baden-Württemberg). The test site’s purpose is to enable researchers and manufacturers of wind turbines and their suppliers to test and validate new wind turbine technologies in complex mountainous terrain. The research and development topics that may be investigated include manufacturing technology, operation, measurement and monitoring, numerical modeling of turbine and flow, aerodynamics, noise reduction, storage technologies and use of new materials.

 

Before approving the current project for the construction of the test site (WINSENT, see below), the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy funded the KonTest project (FKZ 0325656 A-D) from 2013-2015. Within KonTest the planning and the related scientific research for the wind test site took place. Following a tender, wind flow simulations and measurements helped to identify an ideally suited area in the Swabian Alb, a high plateau near the Albtrauf. In this area special wind conditions prevail that are characterized by the local topography and an escarpment aligned with the dominant wind direction, high turbulence intensity, high increases in wind speed and fast changes in wind direction. These wind conditions that are typical of complex terrain place special demands on the structure, design and operation of wind turbines.

 

For research purposes and in the course of industrial projects there will be access to the control algorithms and the numerical models of the wind turbines installed at the test site. In this way new control strategies for improvements in performance and yield and a prolongation of the life cycle of wind turbines can be developed.

 

The turbines‘ compact size and their performance class enables the transfer of the findings and developments to commercial-scale plants and they thus represent a broad platform for the testing of new components and technologies. The test site will be used to clarify current location-specific research issues and will help to test innovative industrial developments.

 

A test site with the features mentioned and the associated possibilities is unique in this form and can be considered a flagship project in the region with a global appeal.

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is funding the construction of the test site within the WINSENT joint project (FKZ 0324129A-F) with an amount of about 10.4 million euros. The Ministry of the Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector Baden-Württemberg contributes an additional 1.2 million euros to funding the project. Partners within the WINSENT project are the WindForS institutes of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, of the Universities of Stuttgart and Tübingen, of TU München, of Hochschule Esslingen University of Applied Sciences and of the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW). The joint project is divided into three sub-projects, i.e., the detailed characterization of the test site location with regard to its micro climate and meteorology, the preparation and modification of the wind turbines, and the construction and operation of the test site. The project is coordinated by the ZSW which will also be responsible for its operation.

 

What is more, extensive accompanying ecological research is carried out at the test site before and during its construction and will also take place in parallel to test site operation once the turbines are installed. It will entail studying the birdlife and its behaviour and developing technologies to reconcile wind energy use with the conservation of ecological diversity and the protection of species.

 

 

 

The test site is planned to have the following features:

 

  • Two modifiable research wind turbines (RWT) with a rated electrical output of 600 kW, a rotor diameter of 50m and a hub height of 75m (total height 100m).
  • Extensive measurement equipment for the recording of electrical, mechanical, seismic and acoustic data.
  • For each turbine two met masts with a total height of 100m each, one in front and one behind each RWT in the wind inflow and wake zones in the main wind direction for recording meteorological parameters such as wind speed, wind direction, temperature, humidity and air pressure.
  • Measurement equipment for obtaining data about the atmosphere’s energy balance by estimating momentum, heat and water vapour fluxes.
  • Involvement in the “Wind and Weather Park” for visitors near the site

 

 

 

 

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