Leading Basque technology making an impact on the wind power sector
IKERLAN has developed an innovative system for offshore wind turbines for General Electric
- This Basque centre also provides technology for the main Basque companies in the sector
- The centre's revenues from contracts with companies in the wind power sector have exceeded € 6.5m in the last 5 years
Basque technology centre IKERLAN has made a solid commitment to position itself as a benchmark technology partner in the strategic wind power sector, where the Basque Country is a prominent actor. Thus it develops technology for the main Basque and international leading companies in this field.
In fact, IKERLAN has developed a custom pitch system for Alstom Wind (now General Electric) that regulates the pitch angle of wind turbine rotor blades, as well as the necessary tools for its design and dimensioning. This innovation has already been tested at the Technical University of Denmark and is to be installed on the American multinational's offshore wind turbines.
IKERLAN's ability to bring innovation to firms is also reflected on the companies of the sector within the Basque Country. Indeed, IKERLAN works with Laulagun Bearings in the development of intelligent bearing monitoring systems, and has collaborated with Ingeteam in control aspects of the wind turbine to INGECON® WIND SPEED FIX2VAR converter, which allows obtaining maximum performance from fixed-speed wind turbine farms changing into variable-speed turbines.
With an ever-increasingly energy dependent society, solar and wind power play a crucial role to advance towards a sustainable generation; they will be the main renewable energy sources upon which to rely in order to meet demand with clean forms of power generation that minimize pollutant emissions.
The Basque industry has a strong presence in one of these sectors: wind power, with benchmark companies in the market such as Gamesa and Iberdrola, and a large number of parts and systems suppliers throughout the entire value chain. Firms in the sector are aware that, in order to competitively rise to the challenges that they must address in the coming years, it is necessary to work together to respond to them with maximum efficiency and incorporating state-of-the-art innovations to products and processes.
This is also the position of the Basque Government, which together with the Basque Energy Cluster leads various initiatives that promote cooperation between firms and innovation in the sector.
A key element to respond to the challenges of the sector is the development of technology to make wind power systems increasingly competitive, efficient, reliable and easy to operate. Thus this is another aspect on which companies focus their initiatives. Areas such as materials and structures, electronics and control, and modelling and design methods are a main focus of technology development for the sector, as are the conversion of electrical energy, monitoring, control, maintenance and integration into the power grid. These are some of the fields identified by the EAWE (European Academy of Wind Energy) in a recent report on research challenges for the coming years.
IKERLAN's track record providing technology to companies in the wind power sector
IKERLAN is a benchmark centre in the development of many key technologies for offshore and onshore wind turbines. The centre has worked for over 30 years in the conception and materialization of technology solutions for the development of the sector.
These include embedded control systems, cutting-edge power converters, the large bearings needed to move turbines, the structural reliability of towers and the wind turbine drivetrain, and monitoring of wind farms. The centre's solutions, developed in collaboration with its clients, are found in many of the turbines that are operative around the world.
IKERLAN's close collaboration with companies in the wind power sector goes back to 1999, when it started working with Ecotècnia and MTorres. These collaborative partnerships have extended to wind turbine manufacturing firms and major firms in the supply chain. In the last five years, IKERLAN has been a leading provider to Alstom-Wind (now GE) in areas such as structure, control, electronics, etc., collaborating in the design and materialization of different elements of onshore wind turbines and the offshore 6-MW Haliade wind turbine.
IKERLAN also has permanent partnerships with companies such as Laulagun Bearings, Ingeteam and Erreka, and in the last five years the centre's revenues from contracts with firms in the wind power sector have exceeded € 6.5m.
IKERLAN's commitment as a state-of-the-art knowledge provider for the needs of the wind power sector
IKERLAN has been and is determined to continue being a benchmark technology partner for businesses in the Basque wind power sector, hence it places vital emphasis on the sector's needs in its knowledge generation strategy. Specifically, it keeps European-level benchmark research groups and focuses its full R&D investment strategy on generating technology and added value for the companies with which it works within the sector.
In line with this, IKERLAN leads the MECOFF project for the development of reliable offshore mechatronic technologies within the Elkartek collaborative research programme.
Permanent dialogue with firms and constant collaboration with the most prestigious research centres and universities in Europe are also pillars of this strategy, which includes continued presence in national and international programmes of R&D promotion. Currently, IKERLAN collaborates with prominent centres such as NREL, DTU-RISO, AALBORG UNIVERSITY, ISEA, ETH ZURICH, CENER and IREC.
Project for the wind turbine nacelle yaw system test bank
The WINDBOX (Wind Industry Subsystem Validation and Integration Centre of Advanced Testing) partnership recently recognized IKERLAN's accumulated expertise in the field of wind power by awarding it the project for the new WIND TURBINE NACELLE YAW SYSTEM TEST bank. This facility will allow companies to test critical components and systems for new offshore wind turbines.
The bank that will be developed is strategically crucial for future wind power technologies, since the yaw system is the mechanism that allows the nacelle to rotate on the tower, keeping it facing against the wind direction in production conditions, in order to maximize energy generation. Furthermore, thanks to the bank that IKERLAN will develop, it will be possible to determine the parameters that influence the lifetime of critical system components. This type of components are mostly manufactured in the Basque Country, so having this type of system available for new generations of turbines shall allow our industry to continue competing globally against other market leaders.
The development of this bank by IKERLAN is backed by the centre's 30+ years of experience in the development of wind power technologies. The centre was a European pioneer developing the first wind maps that gave way to the deployment of these technologies at national level. Since then, it has been working with manufacturers of wind turbines and components in the development of devices and algorithms in technologies as diverse as electronic and communications devices, control software and mechanical technologies.
Windbox is the Advanced Manufacturing Centre of the wind power sector launched in 2014 and promoted by the Basque Government within the framework of the Basque Advanced Manufacturing Strategy. Under the coordination of the Energy Cluster, nine Basque companies participate in this initiative, which has the support of the Department of Economic Development and Competitiveness of the Basque Government and the Regional Government of Gipuzkoa.
IKERLAN is a leading centre in technology transfer, in the specialization of its researchers and in the contribution it makes to the competitive value of companies. It offers comprehensive solutions by combining different fields of technology. This is possible thanks to its high level of specialization in three main areas: Electronics, information and communications technology; Energy and power electronics; and Advanced manufacturing. Its current workforce comprises over 250 qualified employees.