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LORC tests and demonstrates technology for harvesting renewable energy offshore

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Meeting industry’s needs for environmental testing of large components for offshore use is now one step closer with the ordering of a climatic chamber for a new LORC test centre.

Read more about the environmental testing of structures here




Understanding why is crucial

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mandag 14. november 2011

Test Facilities at LORC

Lindoe Nacelle Testing (LNT) will be the most advanced and realistic testing of wind turbine nacelles in the world. LNT will be fully dynamic electrically and mechanically and be able to simulate the lifetime of a wind turbine by stress-testing the whole system. Testing can increase the stress levels and frequency of occurrences in order to discover design weaknesses and calculate the system’s lifetime. LNT will test the first nacelles in 2013.

Lindoe Welding Center (LWC) is being established to overcome the economical challenges in producing large labor intensive welded structures, such as wind turbine towers and foundations. The centerpiece of LWC will be the largest commercially-available fiber laser welding device in the world. Based on decades of experience with steel treatment and welding methods in shipbuilding at the Lindoe site, the Lindoe Welding Center of LORC focuses on research and innovation in welding methods.

Lindoe Testing and Demonstration of Foundations is the part of LORC which focuses on developing new and smarter production methods for well-known substructures and foundations for offshore wind turbines, as well as developing the next generation of foundations for offshore installations in deep water far offshore.

Lindoe Mechanical Testing is a range of different test facilities for partial testing of components. For example, LORC is establishing a test facility for the testing of lubricants and bearings.

“Why and not just how” is a very simplified description of the philosophy behind the testing and demonstration center LORC, Lindoe Offshore Renewables Center. Acting CTO, Claus Kurt Christensen explains.

By Tea Tramontana
The philosophy behind the Lindoe Nacelle Testing is to find out why a wind turbine fails and not just how it fails. LORC, Lindoe Offshore Renewables Center, will test and demonstrate technology for the harvesting of renewable energy offshore. To begin with, the main focus is on offshore wind turbines.

“Like any other innovative center we want to take industry to “the next level”. But at LORC this is not enough. We want to do it in a holistic way, striving to understand why components break by understanding the whole system of a turbine and the interaction of its components. In other words, it will take industry nowhere close to “the next level” if we only detect which components broke during a test – we need to know why,” says Claus Kurt Christensen, who had 12 years of experience within the turbine industry before joining LORC.

Christensen is heading the design and establishment of Lindoe Nacelle Testing, LNT, which will be the most advanced facility for the testing of wind turbine nacelles of up to 10 MW. LNT stands at the heart of the LORC Test Center where a range of groundbreaking test facilities are being established.

Breakdowns must be avoided
Most offshore turbine designs receive two scheduled maintenance visits per year, but in reality technicians typically visit the turbines five to ten times a year. The reasons for this are many, but one thing is certain – the unplanned visits due to breakdowns are expensive and drive up the total cost of energy. A standstill turbine loses income worth hundreds of euros per hour.

Against this, the turbine owner must weigh the very expensive operation of sending a team of technicians to the turbine located far offshore. Can the team only reach a turbine by helicopter, should the operation wait for better weather conditions, etc.? And often the maintenance means the replacement of components weighing tons, involving teams of technicians, boats and cranes. These operations are very costly.

Like a lot of other players in the industry, LORC aims at limiting these unplanned visits by showing both what components break but also when they break. This knowledge will enable industry to plan the servicing and replacement of components and thereby avoid standstill periods. In other words, LORC’s aim is to achieve proven technology through testing and demonstration and the work centers around finding the reasons - asking why. Claus Kurt Christensen explains:

“When a component fails, often it’s actually not the component itself riddled with errors. Very often, failures are due to an unforeseen reaction between components. Take the example of gearboxes. They have for the last decade actually been complying to standards that in theory can match demands from NASA”, says Claus Kurt Christensen and underlines that even if tools for calculating and simulating a turbine’s lifetime are very complex and sophisticated, there are still a lot of unknown factors that one cannot calculate. It requires demonstration and testing:

“When a component breaks we consider it a breakdown caused by a greater system of interdependence between the components of a turbine. With the LNT test facility we can reproduce these complex relationships – under realistic conditions – and combine all imaginable coincidences of influences from the different components and the environment around the turbine. To us, this is about why and it is the only way leading to a situation of predictability for future turbines”.

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