Renewable energy day fell on April 30, 2016 and for years the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe on April 26, 1986, has been commemorated on the last Saturday in that month. Events inform about the latest developments in renewable energy across Germany and this year, the Renewable Energy Cluster in Hamburg (EEHH) presented future research projects. Commenting on the developments, Jan Rispens, Managing Director of the EEHH-Cluster, predicted: “Wind energy will become more efficient and attractive and people’s everyday lives will be unimaginable without it.”
Floating wind energy installations
Strong winds far out at sea yield higher amounts of energy. However, once a water depth of 50 metres has been reached, foundations cannot be anchored to the seabed, according to EEHH. In 2009, Norway’s Statoil installed a model facility in co-operation with Hamburg’s Siemens Wind Power and Renewables division. Now, experts are working on cheaper versions using cement instead of steel to make the technology more efficient and maintain efficiency at the same time.
Prolonging the life span of rotor blades
The Research Alliance Wind Energy at the Frauenhofer Institute is working on making rotor blades more versatile. At low wind speeds, the rear edges of the rotary blades would open special flaps to broaden the surface for winds and increase the yield. The flaps would close in high winds. Researchers are also working on ways of making the rotors turn automatically away from winds. At the same time, the Hamburg-based company Spitzner Engineers GmbH is aiming to reduce the weight of wind turbines and to design them more aerodynamically.
Wind energy farms with wooden towers
Wood is generally considered a promising building material for wind farms. And turbines with wooden towers cost around one fifth less, according to the EEH Cluster. The life span of wooden towers could be double that of steel, according to the Hanover-based TimberTower. Wind turbines on steel towers have to be dismantled after 20 years. In October 2012, a wooden protoype was set up in Hanover-Marienwerder and was put into operation that December. Now, TimberTower is working on wind farms across Germany.
Airborne radar instead of flashing lights at nighttime
At present, a radar-supported lighting system similar to airspex” by the Lübeck-based company, Enertrag is in use. A flashing red light is switched on when an aircraft or helicopter is nearby – and only then. These flashing lights are vital for aviation, but are really annoying for residents. Installing airborne radar could lead to a 98 per cent reduction in the use of flashing lights.