Incorporation of life cycle models in determining optimal wind energy infrastructure
Wind energy has experienced exponential growth levels over the last two decades which has ensured Ireland’s 2010 targets of 15% generation from renewable sources were met and has stimulated job creation, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and increased security of supply. In order for this trend to continue, research and development into alternative sources of energy such as wind energy play a vital role in meeting our 2020 targets.
Furthermore, the development and innovation of wind turbines over the last two decades has resulted in continual growth in size with output ranges of 7-10MW being deployed. This increased output has a knock on effect on the growth of tower heights and rotor diameters requiring wind turbine towers to become taller, stronger and stiffer. Currently the predominant design for wind turbine towers are tubular steel tower designs. However, with increasing steel prices, manufacturing, transportation and vibrational issues concrete towers are becoming a more viable option for taller towers.
Improved design and reduction in cost of these tower designs is an under researched area and the need to assess alternative tower solutions is vital due to the ever increasing size of next generation wind turbines. As a result, the purpose of this research is to identify an optimal solution for the tower design for both onshore and offshore facilities with the objective of reducing the cost of wind energy while minimising its environmental impact.
It remains for continuing research to study the effects of several tower designs and to develop a multi-objective optimisation model which minimises the life cycle cost and associated life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of these designs. The analysis will not only involved investigating the tower component but also the whole wind farm infrastructure including the wind turbine, road construction, sub stations and associated cabling.
DIT - School of Civil & Building Services Engineering
Dr Aidan Duffy
Trinity College Dublin – Dr Alan O’Connor