The European project P.O.W.E.R.E.D. (Project of Offshore Wind Energy: Research, Experimentation, Development), funded by the IPA ADRIATIC CBC 2007-2013, sees the Marche Polytechnic University as European Scientific Responsible of an action aimed at the development of offshore wind energy in the Adriatic Sea Basin. The project is configured as a planning tool that, starting from the identification of the wind potential of the Adriatic basin, comes to the definition of proper GUIDELINES for the correct installation of offshore wind farms. Among the activities of the project emerges the implementation of a wind monitoring network by means of wind towers measuring 45 meters in height, located along the Italian, Croatian, Montenegrin and Albanian coast, Purchasing, commissioning and management operations, were carried out by the Polytechnic University of Marche through a European call for tenders. With P.O.W.E.R.E.D. it has been possible to combine the anemometric monitoring network with a valuable numerical calculation model capable of processing meteorological models for the estimation of the Adriatic wind resources and that, in the future, will provide forecasts on the potential energy production of offshore wind farms in the short term (24 - 48 hours). This is a high-quality profile service thanks to the interaction between the computational structure and the physical network of anemometric towers that POWERED has activated.
The WEST-LAB role
The global attention on wind energy means that at the end of 2012, more than 282,000 [MW] was the installed power worldwide. More than 101000 [MW] was the European contribution, with a 95% onshore and 5% offshore. Italy is the fourth European country with 8144 [MW]. Although the offshore still partially contributes to the global improvement, its evolution is moving so fast that only the completion of 14 planned projects in the North Sea will increase the installed power from 5000 to 8300 [MW]. This development is accompanied by the innovation relative to offshore wind turbines; as many as 31 companies (of which more than half non-European) have announced the upcoming market release of 38 new offshore wind turbine models.
Almost all new models seems to be oriented to a power of more than 5 [MW] each. At the same time even in terrestrial applications new small and medium size turbine models have been recently introduced, in response to a new incentive mechanism designed for this renewable source. The capacity of a turbine to successfully enter the market is strongly linked to its transformation efficiency and compliance with declared specifications. Generally, compliance is guaranteed certifying the wind turbine according to international standards. Specifically, internationally accepted standards are those released by the International Electro-technical Commission (IEC), which has developed a very strict and detailed regulatory package, summarized in IEC-61400. To meet the specific requirements of those standards a range of measures to evaluate the energy performance, the mechanical strength, noise, are needed.
Thanks to the great experience in the wind sector acquired by some departments of the Polytechnic University of Marche is now possible to provide technical and scientific consulting to all companies operating in the sector, thanks also to the infrastructure and knowledge provided by POWERED, an interdepartmental centre called WEST-LAB has been created, through which the Polytechnic University of Marche can compete with the major European groups already working in the field of certification.
WEST-LAB is responsible of gathering experts in the wind industry in an interdepartmental laboratory sharing measurement facilities and related equipment. This allows operating in synergy, reducing costs and improving the quality of results. The operating modes of WEST-LAB are in accordance with ISO17025 quality standards. Currently the working group is in the process of obtaining the accreditation.