Finnish and Russian researchers to create a unique wind turbine for the Arctic

LUT University in consortium with the Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University (SPbPU) and the Central Research Institute of Structural Materials PROMETEY are developing an energy-efficient wind turbine installation for consumers in the Arctic.

The research project is entitled Energy-efficient systems based on renewable energy for Arctic conditions (EFREA), and it has received funding from the South-East Finland–Russia Cross-Border Cooperation Programme 2014-2020.

The project aims to advance welding processes and methods, materials for Arctic conditions, light-weight structures, standards and patents, coatings, 3D manufacturing and corrosion protection.

"Our programme area is an emerging cluster for Arctic technology development, which utilizes extensive Finnish and Russian experience, scientific competence and technical knowledge. To remain competitive in the field of Arctic engineering, strong cross-border cooperation is needed and institutional frameworks should be established. The project will assess the usability of new high-strength materials and advanced joining methods for application in various Arctic structures," says EFREA Project Manager, Associate Professor Paul Kah from LUT.

"Energy supply problems are very acute in the northern regions. The delivery of organic energy resources to these areas is very expensive. In addition, the emissions of fuel combustion and the storage of empty fuel barrels cause significant environmental damage to the Arctic nature," says Professor Viktor Elistratov from SPbPU.

The project will assess the usability of new high-strength materials and advanced joining methods for application in various Arctic structures.

- Paul Kah

The scientist also adds that using wind energy resources in the Arctic region is difficult due to the harsh climatic conditions: icing forms on wind turbine blades and the metal becomes brittle due to the low temperatures. Off-road conditions and a short summer cause serious problems in the manufacture of the installation's foundation and its assembly.

At the first stage of the project, the research group will determine the type and design parameters of the modular wind turbine, which will be developed based on the principles of digital design. Researchers will assess the natural and climatic characteristics and wind potential of the Arctic region and identify the most effective zones and extreme climatic factors for designing and manufacturing the wind turbine. The scientists are considering the possibility of both an above-ground and a floating or underwater installation. Taking into account the features of the Northern Sea Route, the large water surfaces of the northern seas and lakes in Finland and Russia, the manufacture of such installations opens up tremendous prospects for the ecological energy supply to remote Arctic regions.

LUT University has extensive experience in the development and implementation of Arctic materials.

"We have lengthy experience in collaboration with LUT University," says Professor Sergei Parshin of SPbPU.

LUT's Paul Kah, EFREA Project Manager, has been a visiting professor at St. Petersburg Polytechnic University for three years and successfully combines work in the joint research project with teaching students.

The third participant in the consortium, the Central Research Institute of Structural Materials PROMETEY, is engaged in analysing materials which can be used in the manufacture of structural elements and the construction of the installation in Arctic conditions. The project should result in a prototype (digital twin) of a wind turbine adapted to northern conditions as well as a geographic information system for the assessment of wind resources and natural and climatic characteristics.

The project results will be used for educational purposes at LUT University and SPbPU – students will be able to complete their final theses in a real-life an international project.

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LUT develops materials for arctic conditions