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Siemens field-tests a de-icing system for wind turbine blades

In early 2015, Wind aan de Stroom, a consortium of port authorities and private investors, began building one of Belgium’s largest onshore wind farms in the port of Antwerp. Siemens Wind Power is supplying and installing the powerful turbines. The rotor blades contain a brand-new technology for keeping the blades free from ice. In partnership with Sirris’s OWI Lab, Siemens validated the technology’s functionalities on site..
  • Ice can form on rotor blades even in a moderate climate 
  • Innovative solution for detecting and removing ice 
  • Functionalities validation-tested in the field
     

Siemens Wind Power is the division of the German technology company responsible for the production and installation of wind turbines and solutions for the wind industry. 

“The measurement results from the infrared cameras found that the ice detection system and heating system in the rotor blades were performing correctly.” 

Ice formation even in a moderate climate

Despite Belgium’s moderate climate and absence of severe winters, there is still a risk of ice forming on wind turbine rotor blades. Even at temperatures of around 0 °C, frost patches, freezing rain and sleet can form.

 

As well as generating noise and reducing the turbine’s efficiency, ice formation can speed up the ageing process. Also, loose ice poses a safety risk to the surrounding warehouses, production sites and port facilities. Siemens Wind Power has therefore developed a new system for the port of Antwerp onshore wind farm, designed to keep rotor blades free from ice. The manufacturer asked Sirris’s OWI Lab to test this pioneering solution in the field.

Validation test in the field

The new system works as follows: as soon as ice is detected on a rotor blade, the ice detection system shuts the turbine down. A heating module is then activated in the blade’s composite material, which melts the ice in a controlled way.

 

To test that both functionalities were working properly following the turbine’s installation, the experts from Sirris’s OWI Lab set up a field test. Two infrared cameras were fitted on one of the turbines, which provided a detailed picture of heat development within the rotor blades throughout the winter.

Green light for new system

The measurement results found that both functionalities – the ice detection system and the rotor blade heating system – were working correctly. Following this validation test in the field, Siemens Wind Power was able to install the new turbine model in the wind farm being built by Wind aan de Stroom in the port of Antwerp.