Institute for Steel Construction Research Research focuses
Support Structures for Wind Turbines

Support structures for wind turbines

© Salzgitter

Offshore wind energy contributes significantly to the development of renewable energy sources. As the capacity of the wind turbines increases, so too do the mechanical loads on the support structures of the turbines. For a planned service life of up to 25 years, the structural integrity of the support structure must be guaranteed with a certain reliability. The reliable computation of the fatigue strength of individual components is in particular a challenge in the engineering design. Thus, the Institute for Steel Construction has been involved for many years in various research projects –e.g. GIGAWIND, GIGAWIND plus, GIGAWIND alpha ventus, GIGAWIND life, FATInWeld, HYCONCAST – developing computational methods allowing a more reliable calculation the fatigue strength properties of welded, bolted and grouted connections of wind-turbine support structures.

In addition to the further development of computational methods the industrial focus is shifting to the possibilities of automated production in order to increase the economic efficiency of the turbines. The Institute for Steel Construction contributes to this further development with various research projects in close cooperation with renowned partners from industry and research. For example, the fatigue strength of automatically welded tubular joints for jacket support structures was quantified within the research project FATInWeld. Additionally, the research project DeepRolledWeld deals with deep rolling as a post-processing method for welded joints on monopile foundations that can be easily integrated into the automated manufacturing process.

The durability of products plays an important role in today's interdisciplinary world. The production of buildings or structures that ensure their load-bearing capacity and use over as long a period as possible is a major challenge for today's constructions. Of course, this also applies in particular to steel as a building material. At the Institute for Steel Construction, this point is viewed from different angles and forms the focus of several current and completed research projects. Particularly with regard to offshore wind turbines, the Institute for Steel Construction can look back on a long history of research projects in the field of fatigue strength of various joining techniques. Many numerical and experimental investigations on the fatigue strength of bolted, welded or grouted joints have been carried out at the Institute for Steel Construction. Finished research projects are Ventus Efficiens, HyConCast and FATInWeld (see Research Projects).