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Non-nuclear energy

Technology Focus – FP6 Projects

Fission and radiation protection

May 2006
Issue 5

Technology Focus – FP6 Projects

Coordinated Action for Ocean Energy

Energy from ocean waves can make an important contribution to Europe's renewable energy portfolio, and there are significant ocean energy resources in Europe, notably off the coasts of the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal and Norway. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in ocean energy in recognition of the technical potential, and devices to exploit ocean energy are expected to make the transition from the demonstration phase to working prototypes in the near future. However, ocean energy companies and research organisations are currently small and dispersed, and there are many cases where increased co-operation would deliver significant benefits. One example is the need for a harmonised power rating for ocean energy devices, as each system and team currently has its own way of quoting power level and peak power.

The EU project, CA-OE, aims to coordinate ongoing ocean energy research activities. The project started on 1 October 2004 and involves 41 organisations from 13 countries, including Canada. During the project, researchers, industries and utilities will come together through a series of technical and non-technical workshops on:

  • Modelling of ocean energy systems
  • Component technology and power take-off
  • System design, construction, reliability and safety
  • Performance monitoring
  • Environment, economics, development policy and promotion of opportunities.

In each workshop, the state of the art will be assessed and future R&D actions that would benefit from international collaboration will be identified. The strategic aim is to work towards harmonised measurement and reporting standards, and to establish a roadmap for further technological development. The proceedings will be made available on the project website

Enhanced Geothermal Coordination Network for Europe – ENGINE

There are significant geothermal resources in many countries in the EU, and geothermal energy can make an important contribution to Europe's renewable energy portfolio. However, the use of geothermal energy is limited at present since it relies on the relatively uncommon geological occurrence of rocks being simultaneously water-bearing, hot, permeable and located at economically accessible depths. Nonetheless, there are several approaches to increase the potential of geothermal resources, such as enhanced geothermal systems and supercritical reservoirs, which can be referred to collectively as unconventional geothermal resources.

The challenge of enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) is to increase the use of the resource while decreasing the risks inherent in exploitation. The EGS approach entails stimulating reservoirs in hot dry rock environments to achieve sustainable fluid circulation through the artificially widened cracks in the rocks. Both EGS and supercritical fluid systems require the development of high-temperature downhole tools and instruments.

The EU project ENGINE aims to increase the coordination of the present research and development initiatives for unconventional geothermal resources and enhanced geothermal systems, from the resource investigation and assessment stage through to exploitation monitoring. The consortium is composed of 31 partners from 16 European countries, including six companies. The project will link with the ongoing EC projects, EGS Pilot Plant (see RENEWS n° 2) and I-GET (this issue), and also to national projects involving the geothermal resources throughout Europe.

The project was officially launched on 12-15 February 2006 in Orléans, France. The meeting was hosted by the coordinating institute, Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières, and about 100 researchers attended.

UpWind – Integrated Project on Wind Turbine Design

The UpWind Integrated Project looks towards the wind power of the future where very large turbines of 8 to 10 MW, and perhaps even 20 MW, will stand in wind farms of several hundred MW, both on- and offshore.

The project got underway with the kick-off meeting on 3 and 4 April at the Vrije Universiteit, Brussels (VUB). One hundred and fifteen representatives of the 39 partners of the consortium, led by project coordinator Peter Hjuler Jensen of Risø, gathered together with three members of the EC team responsible for following the progress of the project. This most impressive gathering had more the appearance of an international conference than a project meeting, with the combined presence of so many of the EU's leading wind power industry, research and academic experts. But this is only the beginning – undertaking and managing such a project is a major team effort, with the equivalent of 40 people working full-time for 5 years in 11 different EU countries across the length and breadth of Europe. Seeing everyone all together in one room gives a clear impression of the scale of ambition and the challenge involved in running a multi-national enterprise such as this one.

The creation of giant wind turbines – a 20 MW version would have a rotor diameter of almost a quarter of a kilometre if based on current principles – necessitates the highest possible design standards, a complete understanding of external load conditions, materials with extreme strength to mass ratios, advanced control and measuring systems all geared towards the highest degree of reliability and, critically, reduced overall turbine mass. This entails the re-evaluation of the core units of the wind energy power plant and a search for innovative design concepts. UpWind will develop the accurate, verified tools the industry needs to design and manufacture the complete range of components for this new breed of turbine. These will include design tools for the aerodynamic, aero-elastic, structural and material design of rotors and drive train components.

The UpWind project consists of eight parallel basic research work packages in a matrix relationship with seven technology integration tasks, added to which there are coordinating work packages on communications and management. The basic research topics cover aerodynamics and aero-elastics, rotor structures and materials, foundations and supports, control systems, remote sensing, condition monitoring, wind flow and grid connection. The integration tasks, which steer 60% of the basic research work, address common standards and integrated design, metrology, training and education, innovative blades, transmission and conversion, variable geometry ‘smart’ blades and up-scaling to 20 MW turbines.

The findings of the project will be disseminated through a series of workshops and through a dedicated website, where first details of the project will soon be available.

Evolution of the size of wind turbines © Courtesy of EWEA
Evolution of the size of wind turbines
© Courtesy of EWEA

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