Chalmers vs CO2

Since receiving a PhD in the subject in 1988, he has dedicated his entire career to wind power.
Associate Professor Ola Carlson is director of the new Swedish Wind Power Technology Centre. It’s run by people from both academia and industry. Besides Chalmers, industrial giants such as ABB, SKF and General Electric are heavily involved, together with regional actors such as Göteborg Energi, Marström Composite, Treventus and Diab. Access to full-scale test wind turbines makes the centre unique. Additionally, it has an electrical test facility that can simulate any type of disruption between grid and power plant. The role of the centre is to drive education, research and production of wind power technology in Sweden.

Wind power must become robust

Wind power is growing globally by approximately 20 % each year. Yet as it provides an increasingly large share of our electricity, it becomes increasingly more important that it runs smoothly together with the power grids. Today’s wind turbines are often programmed to stop delivering power if there is an unexpected voltage drop. But if wind turbines are to play a greater role, they must become more robust to disturbances in the grid. In collaboration with GE Wind and Swedish Wind Power Technology Centre, Göteborg Energi plans to build a unique test site in the city’s harbour entrance – a full-size wind turbine and a complete electrical test facility. This will simulate a disruptive grid for the wind turbine to deal with.

Vital knowledge

Another area of wind power in need of development is our general knowledge of it. There are plenty of myths and misunderstandings, and as wind power gains ground a greater number of decision makers need accurate information. This is where the Swedish Wind Power Technology Centre can make a difference. What’s more, it can provide a special wind turbine tower for fire and rescue exercises – as part of a plan together with the Department of Shipping & Marine Technology and Gothenburg Rescue Services.

Long live the turbine

Very strong or gusty winds can rip at a wind turbine, twisting the blades and spilling wind. Unfortunately most systems use the readings of the power coming out of the turbine to determine when it is time to turn the blades. By this time the force has passed all the way through the system and the damage is done. To measure the wind earlier – on the blade, for example – could extend the life of the turbine. Or perhaps even by measuring the wind a hundred metres before it reaches the blade using radar equipment. Hopefully research at the new centre will discover a suitable solution.

Modelled on the Swedish Hybrid Vehicle Centre

As Chalmers is host to the Swedish Hybrid Vehicle Centre, many lessons have already been learnt regarding the structure and organisation of the Swedish Wind Power Technology Centre. In fact, Ola Carlsson has first-hand experience from there, too. "The electrical technology used in a wind turbine has a lot in common with that of an electrically powered car." He explains that engineers in both applications attend the same basic courses in their respective training programmes.

For more information, please visit:
Swedish Wind Power Technology Center

Published: Fri 15 Apr 2011. Modified: Tue 26 Apr 2011