Simulating the next generation of wind power

In this series of blogs, Hexagon’s VP Global Energy Practice Lead, Siddhant Gupta, analyses how innovative manufacturing technology can accelerate progress towards achieving key sustainable development goals (SDGs), as outlined by the UN. Here we focus on SDG number 9: “Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation.”

Building a resilient infrastructure

Resilience can be instilled in a product or structure at the design stage and means understanding the choice of materials, how they interact with the operational environment, and how easily the design can be repaired.

Clean energy is a fascinating area to look at in terms of resilience, because although we are now becoming more aware of the urgent need for renewable energy production, one thing has not gone away: the requirement to operate in harsh conditions. This is particularly true when looking at methods such as wind power and hydroelectric generation, which function through wind or water energy being forced against the rotor blades to turn the drive shaft and generate electricity. This is a process which clearly needs well-designed, durable moving parts to withstand a significant amount of wear and tear, maximising component life.

An example of our ability to implement durability in real-life applications can be found in our work with ZF Energy which involved developing power-dense, lightweight wind turbine drivetrains while minimising transmission error. The solution utilised Romax Enduro to create simulation models of the drivetrain including gear mesh simulations and measurements to optimise gear loading and transmission error. This resulted in reduced cost of energy through increased power density and durability of wind turbine drivetrains.

Promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation

To ensure renewable energy has a chance to slow down the progression of climate change, it is vital that its use is widespread, and not just implemented in isolated, wealthy areas of the planet. Encouraging this to happen means removing hurdles such as expense, ease of design, ease of manufacture and ease of maintenance.  These qualities can be delivered through fast, intelligent, intuitive design software available from Hexagon. Our software solutions enable complete wind turbine drivetrain design from concept to manufacture, maximising energy capture from optimised turbine blades and minimising loss during the conversion process.

By targeting inefficiencies within wind turbine manufacturing and optimising them, our software solutions make wind energy more sustainable, increasing energy output, reducing downtime and maintenance requirements. And through enhancement of intuitive, automated processes, the level of expertise needed to operate the software is lowered, democratising the production of renewable energy systems.

Foster innovation

Manufacturing technology has been a constant catalyst for innovation. The Industrial Revolution changed the world and we are still feeling its effects, both positive and negative. That revolution was powered initially by enormous quantities of coal to produce steam, and then by drilling for petroleum and natural gas.

Technology now has the opportunity to transform the planet with tools that promote the development of creative, sustainable solutions accessible to everyone. It is possible to foster innovation by developing software tools that offer rapid automation of many of the processes, leveraging AI and ML, enabling the operator the freedom to focus more on creativity rather than running the software.

Our solutions are driving innovation forward in technologies such as floating windfarms. These installations are on the rise as they are able to be installed further away from shore with reduced environmental impact and within areas that regularly enjoy strong winds. The power of full-system simulation again played an essential role in enabling a multi-disciplinary team collaborate efficiently to develop a highly integrated floating 6MW wind turbine drivetrain. The Romax suite de-risked the development, providing a starting point and clear direction for the design phase based on a full understanding of the design considerations. These powerful qualities reduced risk of expensive design changes or re-work later in the development process, giving innovative floating windfarm projects the best possible chance of success.

Elevating wind energy manufacturing

Renewable energy is in focus and there is a willingness to invest in its future for the good of the planet. But hurdles remain in place, and so we must strive to increase efficiency through every step of the manufacturing process to reduce costs and open up more opportunities globally. Reducing costs and making equipment more resilient are key factors to ensuring clean, renewable energy from facilities such as wind farms contributes significantly to the energy mix everywhere. Despite renewed focus, currently coal, oil and gas still dominate, but through innovative software inspiring lighter, more durable, more efficient designs, we can effect change together.

Hexagon is elevating wind energy manufacturing. To learn more about how we’re enabling efficiency and innovation from concept, through manufacturing, to operation, visit our website: https://hexagon.com/industries/energy-power-generation

Author

  • Siddhant Gupta

    Siddhant Gupta (Sid) is VP Global Energy Practice Lead for Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division. He has more than 12 years of experience in the global energy sector, having led numerous digital transformation and de-carbonisation businesses. Prior to Hexagon, Sid was responsible for the Future Grid business at Siemens in APAC, focused on solar, battery storage and eMobility infrastructure. He started his career with Rolls Royce Power Systems, leading an Energy Storage (hydrogen, battery and thermal) segment in Europe. He has also driven digital transformation in a gas power generation business in US, and at an oil and gas business in the Middle East. Sid is passionate about sustainability and is keen to drive the transition to renewable energy, sustainable manufacturing and zero emission mobility.

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