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Icy winds will test tomorrow’s wind turbines

Northern Sweden is home to vast, uninhabited areas with energy-rich winds; however, the technology required to handle the extreme cold and icy winds is as yet untested. The Uljabuouda Cold Climate Test Centre gives us that ability.
"Uljabuouda is the perfect location to test wind turbines in a cold climate," says Stefan Ivarsson, head of renewable energy at RISE.

780 metres above sea level. In excess of 500 hours of icy winds annually. An average wind speed of 8.4 metres per second. Uljabuouda in Arjeplog Municipality is not a welcoming place; that said, this is what makes it perfect for testing tomorrow’s wind turbines.

“Apart from the climate, which is the single most important reason, there are already wind turbines in place. This makes our establishment easier and means that we have access to valuable historical operational and climate data that we can use in our test programme,” says Stefan Ivarsson.

For developers of wind turbines, a real-world testing environment is extremely valuable. One of the challenges is developing deicing systems that keep wind turbine blades ice-free. The project includes many important stakeholders as partners: Skellefteå Kraft, Vattenfall, Vindkraftscentrum, Vinnova, Swedish Wind Power Technology Centre and TNO/ECN (The Netherlands’ largest energy research institute).

“This is an important area for us. There are large areas with a great deal of wind energy; however, the cold climate also presents challenges. The ability to invite turbine manufactures to come and test their products under controlled conditions is vital if we are to identify solutions,” says Jörgen Svensson at Skellefteå Kraft, who continues.

“We already have facilities in harsh environments but we can learn so much more at a test facility where manufacturers can test unhindered.”

In the long term, there are also several advantages to this collaboration, as RISE is able to provide expertise in so many fields; for example, cutting-edge measurement technology and certification, which will be vital for launching solutions on the market.