test site

Icing is an important issue when operating wind turbines in high altitude or arctic areas as it can cause significant production losses and represent a safety risk. In 2004, a 600 kW Enercon E-40 wind turbine with integrated blade heating was installed on Gütsch mountain, Switzerland, at 2’300 m asl. Coincidentally, a fully equipped test station of the Swiss meteorological network SwissMetNet is situated about 200 m from the wind turbine. The immediate proximity of the two facilities operating under icing conditions led to the launch of the national research project “Alpine Test Site Gütsch” which is embedded in the European “COST Action 727: measuring and forecasting atmospheric icing on structures”.
As the wind turbine is located close to ski slopes, ice throw is an important safety issue. Since October 2005, the area around the wind turbine was inspected after every icing event for ice fragments that had fallen off the blades. Distance from and direction relative to the turbine as well as size and weight of the recovered fragments were mapped and, together with photos, collected in a data base. After data analysis, the following main conclusions could be drawn: -Ice throw from the wind turbine occurs regularly during icing events at Gütsch. -Ice throw can happen at any time of the year, even in summer. -Most of the ice throw occurs underneath the blades of the wind turbine. This is therefore the most dangerous area. -Ice throw is a significant safety risk at Gütsch.




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