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INEGI wants to increase the useful life of materials and structures in offshore wind farms

12 February 2021
INEGI is one of the partner of the MAREWIND project, a European consortium that, over the next four years, will have the mission of studying and improving the durability of materials in offshore wind farms, in order to extend its life cycle.

Offshore wind farms take advantage of the wind that blows offshore, at a higher and more constant speed than on land. However, due to the installation location, the equipment and components that make up the wind turbines are subject to an extremely aggressive environment, which significantly contributes to shortening their life cycle, resulting in damage or loss of efficiency in power generation, which have a major impact on operating and capital costs.

To minimize this problem and allow the maximum exploration of this renewable energy resource, the 16 partners in this project propose to "improve the operational performance of the next generation of offshore wind generators, as well as the current marine power generators, through the best performance of its functional or structural components”, explains Tiago Morais, one of those responsible for the project at INEGI.

In the face of this challenge, INEGI will be in charge of developing tools to predict the structural behavior of offshore underwater foundations (gravity-based structures, or GBS), through machine learning algorithms, and based on a large amount of data generated by numerical models and acquired in real time by experiment.

The testing and monitoring of underwater offshore foundations will be carried out in a first phase in the laboratory (wave tank) and, subsequently, in real operating conditions, off the Portuguese coast.

In order to reduce the impact of failures on operating and maintenance costs, the project contemplates "the development of a complete system for assessing the structural integrity of the wind turbine blades". Tiago Domingues, responsible at INEGI for the structural monitoring component of the project, explains that "the blade will be equipped with a monitoring system with a set of sensors that allow the real-time analysis of the condition of the blade, to anticipate structural problems".

In this context, INEGI's team of specialists will also implement non-contact monitoring techniques, namely thermography technologies and digital image correlation supported by drones, to identify defects in the entire structure of the wind turbine.

The "MAterials solutions for cost Reduction and Extended service life on WIND off-shore facilities" project, which started in January, is co-financed under Horizon 2020, the European Union's research and innovation program.