Wind turbines, especially those designed for offshore locations, are big machines. And as the expected boom in the offshore wind market gets going, they will get even bigger. But bigger turbines need bigger blades, and that requirement is pushing the limit of what is technologically possible. Intensified R&D is needed, and that is what Denmark's Vestas – the world's leading wind turbine manufacturer – is gearing up to do, reports professional journal Ingeniøren (The Engineer).
In both Jutland, Denmark and on the Isle of Wight in the UK, Vestas will significantly expand its wind turbine blade research units, known as Blades R&D, which forms a part of Vestas' global research and development empire. The reported investment sum is EUR 60m.
In Denmark, the composite laboratory will be moved from its present building to a new, larger facility with additional laboratories and test areas. On the Isle of Wight in the UK, an even larger extension of its current facility will be implemented, featuring new laboratories and full-size blade testing halls. According to Ingeniøren, several hundred new jobs will be created over time as a result of these expansions.
The staff employed by Blades R&D include specialists in chemistry and chemical engineering, who work with polymers, epoxy resins and nanotechnology in a range of development, analysis, test and approval functions.
Poul Prestgaard, the director of Blades R&D, told Ingeniøren: "Wind turbine blades must become steadily larger, lighter and stronger, because the stresses on the mechanics of the wind turbine increase rapidly when the blades are heavy and when the blade diameter increases. That in turn means we must have steady development of blade materials."