Articles | Volume 6, issue 1
06 Sep 2011
 | 06 Sep 2011

Wind turbines in icing conditions: performance and prediction

S. Dierer, R. Oechslin, and R. Cattin

Abstract. Icing on structures is an important issue for wind energy developments in many regions of the world. Unfortunately, information about icing conditions is mostly rare due to a lack of measurements. Additionally, there is not much known about the operation of wind turbines in icing conditions. It is the aim of the current study to investigate the effect of icing on power production and to evaluate the potential of icing forecasts to help optimizing wind turbine operation.

A test site with two Enercon E-82 turbines was set up in the Jura region in Switzerland in order to study the turbines' behaviour in icing conditions. Icing forecasts were performed by using an accretion model driven by results of the mesoscale weather forecast model WRF.

The icing frequency at the test site is determined from pictures of a camera looking at the measurement sensors on the nacelle. The results show that the site is affected by frequent icing: 11.5 days/year of meteorological icing and 41.5 days/year of instrumental icing were observed corresponding to a factor of about four. The comparison of power production with and without blade heating shows that blade heating results in a 3.5% loss and operation without blade heating results in a 10% loss of the annual power production due to icing. Icing forecasts are performed for winter 2009/2010. Simulated and observed icing events agree well and also coincide with periods of power drop. Thus, the results suggest that icing forecasts can help to optimize the operation of wind parks in icing conditions.