• His PhD thesis puts forward a method that extends the service life of wind turbines by up to 10%
  • This prize highlights best technological research in the wind energy sector 

Yesterday, the IK4-IKERLAN researcher Asier Díaz de Corcuera received the 2014 Eolo Prize for Innovation, awarded by the Wind Energy Business Association and REOLTEC. This award, which is for the best piece of work of the year devoted to technological innovation in the wind energy sector, has gone to the researcher’s PhD thesis in which he proposes a method designed to extend the service life of wind turbines.

In his thesis entitled 'Diseño de controladores robustos para la reducción de cargas en aerogeneradores' [Design of robust controllers to reduce loads in wind turbines], Diaz de Corcuera has proposed an innovative method to design the control systems for wind turbines. This method enables a reduction to be made in the stresses wind turbines are subjected to, which means the materials have to endure less wear and tear. This entails savings in maintenance and an increase in the service life of several of the key components of the wind turbine (blades, tower or drivetrain), achieving as much as a 10% increase in some of them.

This is in fact the main reason why the panel of judges have picked the work of the IK4-IKERLAN researcher, because they believe it addresses two important aspects for the wind energy sector: the considerable cut in maintenance costs and the achieving of a longer service life of the components that form the wind turbine.

Díaz de Corcuera’s PhD thesis deals with the design of wind turbine controllers capable of adapting to the conditions (in other words, mainly wind speed) better than conventional ones. The controller is the device that monitors the conditions and controls the rotation and orientation mechanisms of the turbine.

What the IK4-IKERLAN researcher has come up with is a controller equipped with a function that measures the conditions the wind turbine has to contend with and seeks, by means of mathematical algorithms, optimum position and movement so that the least possible load has to be withstood in such circumstances.

“As the towers get higher and higher and the blades bigger and bigger, wind turbines are being subjected to greater loads, so it is essential to look at ways of reducing the stresses and the vibrations associated with them,” explained Díaz de Corcuera.

The ideas he has put forward have been tested in wind turbine simulators set up on dry land. Furthermore, IK4-IKERLAN is working together with the company Alstom Renovables on a project that is now at a very advanced stage and in which these methods are being applied to a wind turbine that is being marketed.

The application of this new method could be very advantageous in offshore wind turbines as this is a scenario full of complications.
This is how Díaz de Corcuera assessed the prize that his thesis has received: “I think this prize goes far beyond the personal aspect, because it recognises the work IK4-IKERLAN has been carrying out in recent years in the field of wind energy.”

About the Wind Energy Business Association

The organisation that awards the Eolo Prize for Innovation is the Wind Energy Business Association (AEE-Asociación Empresarial Eólica), which has over 200 member companies accounting for 95% of the sector in Spain. It includes promoters, manufacturers of wind turbines and components, national and regional associations, associations linked to the sector, consultants, lawyers, and financial institutions and insurance companies, among others.

The Wind Energy Business Association (AEE-Asociación Empresarial Eólica) and REOLTEC awarded the prize to the researcher Asier Díaz de Corcuera yesterday
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