Generate Clean Energy Profitably With Sustainable Wind Turbines

Win the clean energy race by minimizing the carbon footprint of wind turbines with virtual twin technology.

With wind power fronting the world’s renewable energy race, how quickly can you scale up sustainable wind turbines?

The International Renewable Energy Agency expects millions of tons of old turbine blades by 2050. Due to lack of commercially viable recycling options, blades are being reused where lifetime and quality permit.

As such, the shift to clean energy is picking up the pace: World leaders pledge to boost investments in renewable energy and reduce their dependence on fossil fuels by 2030; and across China, the EU and US, wind power is gaining traction as the largest renewable source of energy.

Faced with a competitive market and strict environmental regulations, energy companies are moving away from expensive physical prototypes that fuel the growth of industrial waste. They are instead turning to modeling and simulation technology to accelerate cost-effective, sustainable wind turbine innovation — optimized for rapid deployment and extended lifecycle.

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Channel the Power of the Wind

Wind turbines are subjected to huge forces and the larger they are, the more susceptible their blades are to bending and twisting. Noise is also a concern as regulations tighten; turbines must be designed not only to be effective but also to be quiet. Could modeling and simulation address these concerns? The answer is yes.

"Before, we only needed to consider small linear deformation of the rotor blades during simulation. This is no longer the case with these longer blades. Simulating non-linear deformation, especially bend-twist coupling, is now a prerequisite for accurate load prediction,” highlights Steve Mulski, Industry Process Expert and Wind Energy Executive at Dassault Systèmes.

A Spanish leader in renewable energy is paving the way in ensuring their offshore turbines are not only designed to withstand fatigue damage, but engineered to adapt to operating conditions. Virtual twin technology is the key. Through high-fidelity modeling and simulation, companies can:

  • Assess the aerodynamic and acoustic performance of the blade and tip
  • Use different levels of fidelity to simulate a drive train with different variants
  • Accurately calculate natural frequencies to avoid critical resonances and better predict the downtime of bearing failure
     

As turbine size increases, not only do we have to consider the extra loading from the additional weight, but even more significantly, the changing dynamic loading resulting from the elastic deformation of the components.

Steve Mulski - Profile picture > Dassault Systèmes
Steve Mulski
Industry Process Expert & Wind Energy Executive, Dassault Systèmes

Innovate to Optimize Energy Payback

Skeptics of wind energy often highlight the energy consumed and material waste incurred during the manufacturing of wind turbines as some of wind energy's drawbacks — they’re not wrong. In reality, components and raw materials make up more than 80% of the carbon footprint of the turbine manufacturing process. 

While wind turbines are 80 to 90% recyclable, the blades have poor recyclability. Due to lack of commercially viable recycling options, composite blades often end up buried in landfills — but this is slowly changing. Turbine manufacturer VESTAS is riding the wind in their sails by researching composite recycling technologies to achieve zero-waste turbines by 2040. (Source: Vestas Annual report 2020)

So the question is, how can you minimize your turbine’s environmental impact while protecting product margins and not compromising quality? According to a recent FT Focus report, at least 40% of companies are in the process of embedding circular design principles into the product development lifecycle. 

To stay ahead and scale up sustainable innovation, companies need to be equipped with these core capabilities:

Profitable and Sustainable Wind Turbines > Zero-Emissions > Dassault Systèmes®

Carbon footprint

Through lifecycle assessments (LCA), companies can evaluate the environmental impacts of the materials used, guiding engineers towards more sustainable options.

Profitable and Sustainable Wind Turbines > Eco-Efficient Turbines > Dassault Systèmes®

Agility

With an integrated platform, companies can slash development and operating costs, thus delivering better-performing turbines faster that easily offsets their production's carbon footprint.

Profitable and Sustainable Wind Turbines > Optimized Production > Dassault Systèmes®

Optimization

MOM-integrated detailed planning and scheduling empowers companies to tame production complexity while minimizing material waste and utilizing resources efficiently.

Extend the Lifespan of Turbines

When giant wind turbines break down, they need to be fixed fast. Without full visibility, preventive maintenance is not likely to allow a turbine to achieve the full 25 years of operation as promised.

A single integrated platform provides the digital continuity needed to optimize the performance of components and equipment after assembly. By integrating with artificial intelligence and IoT sensors on site to create a feedback loop, companies gain a clearer understanding of their working turbines.

"During its lifecycle, virtual twin technology allows manufacturers to re-evaluate the turbine's maintenance schedule by simulating the effectiveness of the turbine's current condition against possible scenarios," says Jean-Yves Tresson, Senior Manager Sales and Consultant at Dassault Systèmes.

Virtualize Solutions for a Power-Hungry World

Integrated applications and data are essential to powering sustainable wind turbines — and this is where the 3DEXPERIENCE® platform and Dassault Systèmes' solutions can add real value and bring about significant cost savings.

By bringing together multidisciplinary teams right from the beginning, the 3DEXPERIENCE platform enables energy companies to:

  • Deliver projects on-time and on-cost while meeting sustainability and compliance objectives
  • Incorporate eco-designs into the lifecycle, thus reducing energy payback time for offshore and onshore turbines
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of materials used to ensure turbines are designed for stability as much as performance and strength

The race is on to develop cost-efficient wind farms that can become an almost boundless source of emission-free electricity. With continued improvements in wind forecasting, electrical grid infrastructure and energy storage, wind power might blow away all our energy problems.

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