Done and dusted. The German government’s decision to withdraw from nuclear energy has also paved the way for the development of renewable forms of energy. The proportion of electricity generation from renewable sources is expected to rise to at least 80 percent by 2050. Wind energy is planned to play a major role in this. Last year the sector contributed 7.9 percent to the total amount of electricity generated in Germany.
The energy policy of the German government includes giving greater support to offshore wind farms. The remuneration for this power is to be raised to 15 cents per kilowatt hour. Operators of onshore wind turbines will continue to receive up to 10.2 cents per kilowatt hour. 0.5 cents are paid for power from new wind parks if the old equipment went online before 2002. The new turbine should also deliver twice the amount of power than the old one.
These factors therefore represent healthy prospects for the future of the wind power sector. The manufacturers of fibre-reinforced composites are also expecting to benefit from this development – because modern wind turbines are inconceivable without glass and carbon fibre-reinforced plastics. The organisers of the international Composites Europe (CE) exhibition, to be held from 27 to 29 September 2011 in Stuttgart, recognised this early on and are giving the industry the platform it deserves. Well-known producers and processors of fibre composites for the wind energy sector and the relevant machine producers and suppliers get together each year at the event.
But it is not only the presence of the big names which makes a visit to the exhibition so worthwhile. Jens-Hagen Wüstefeld from Starnberg, for instance, has developed a crystalline structure as a lightweight construction element. It yields an 85 percent reduction in weight, lower manufacturing costs, outstanding rigidity and design flexibility in comparison to a solid material. Starting out with a geometric concept, he made a three dimensional lattice from triangles, similar to a crystal structure. Any forces applied to such a symmetrical grid are distributed optimally to adjacent surfaces and edges.
These lightweight elements can be manufactured to any scale, from any materials and in any form – including those appropriate for wind turbines. The resulting reduced weight of the tower would allow the foundation to be simplified. And the lower weight of the rotor would result in lower bearing loads and therefore reduced wear and greater efficiency in the entire turbine. The reduced amounts of materials required would also reduce production costs. Individual segments can easily be joined together, simplifying both transportation and erection.