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Ice build-up on wind turbines

Innovative methods help to identify and assess unplanned generation outages for wind turbines.

In progress

Integrating wind power plants into our power grid

There are currently 1,300 wind turbines in use across Austria. This number is set to rise further still as the massive expansion in renewable energy continues. To successfully integrate future wind power plants into the Austrian power grid, generation forecasts will need to be produced for each individual turbine. 

Nature’s challenges for wind power plants

Wind turbines are exposed to many different environmental conditions. In winter, for example, rotor blades can become iced up and this may result in faults and damage to the entire turbine. Layers of ice build-up on the blade surfaces cause changes to the aerodynamic properties of the blade, potentially unbalancing the running of the turbine – a situation which could lead to the rotors and generators being damaged. A far riskier prospect, though, is “ice throw”. This is where fragments of ice fall from the rotor blades. Because of the dangers this presents, a warning system is deployed that immediately shuts down the wind turbine if an accumulation of ice is detected.  

If large numbers of wind power plants stop operating due to widespread icing, this in turn has an enormous, unplanned effect on energy flows within the power grid. Shutting down wind turbines in order to mitigate the risks of icing means that, all of a sudden, large amounts of energy are no longer available that would have otherwise been expected. This is a serious issue for security of supply. APG’s responsibility is to rapidly procure this missing energy so it can restore the balance between supply and demand. As the wind energy sector continues to expand in Austria, the problem of maintaining grid stability is becoming ever more difficult. But it is not just the icing of blades which can result in power gaps. Changes in the network or the marketplace may also reduce the amount of electricity being generated. 

From ice accumulation to a secure supply

To avoid plant downtime and be able to better offset any shortfalls in energy production, it is essential to implement technical measures such as forecasting models or sensing technology. Such preventive action helps, for instance, to predict when ice-related outages may happen and prepare for this eventuality. 

Consequently, this project is making a significant contribution towards ensuring a secure energy supply – both now and in the future.  

Contact person

contact person placeholder

Christoph Karner

Project lead

Wagramer Straße (IZD Tower)
1220 Wien


Alexander Kaiser

Project lead

Wagramer Straße 19 (IZD Tower)
1220 Wien

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