A new 5000 m2 test hall for wind turbine blades is now in operation at the world’s largest blade test centre in Aalborg, Denmark.
The wind energy market continues to grow and the predictions for the next decades are tremendous. Wind farm projects increase in size and so do also the investments. To de-risk business cases and ensure long-term stable and reliable power supply, wind farm investors and wind turbine manufacturers focus on product verification and thereby also testing.
Blade Test Centre A/S (Blaest) in Aalborg, Denmark experiences a high demand for full-scale structural blades testing and the test capacity has been almost fully loaded for years. Despite the continuously ongoing market consolidation among the wind turbine and blade manufacturers this situation is expected to continue.
In May 2019 Blaest signed a long-term agreement with Vestas Wind Systems on full scale testing of Vestas blades, and the decision was taken to build a new test hall with three test rigs capable of testing 100 m blades. 13 months later construction work was completed and the test hall ready for operation.
With its 5000 m2 footprint and more than 30 m height, placed at the waterfront of Port of Aalborg, the new test hall is a landmark for Aalborg and the world’s largest independent blade testing laboratory. The building is owned by Port of Aalborg and operated by Blaest on a long-term rental agreement. Test rigs and test equipment are established and owned by Blaest. As a result of a dedicated effort from all stakeholders in the project it was possible to establish this +100 million DKK investment without any public subsidies.
The first Vestas blade was recently taken through the initial static testing where extreme loads were applied to the blade.
Subsequently the blade will be exposed to months of rigorous accelerated fatigue testing to simulate the dynamic loading of the blade throughout its full operational life.
The new test hall almost doubles the test capacity. The new test rigs have advanced design features to secure the safety of the personnel while at the same time allowing for optimisation of the test campaigns and reduction of critical handling and lifting operations.
A lot of energy is used to test blades. With the purpose of minimising the environmental impact, the new facility is equipped with solar panels at the rooftop. In addition, all the test equipment is electrically powered, which is much more energy efficient than hydraulically powered equipment normally used for blades testing.
Doubling the capacity also means more employees. The Blaest team now counts more than 30 technicians and engineers. “This is an extraordinary opportunity to manifest our position as the globally leading independent laboratory for full-scale structural blade testing. It is my pleasure to lead our highly skilled team through the expansion and bring BLAEST to the next level for the benefit of our customers”, says Managing Director, Erik Steen Jensen.
Official inauguration of the new test hall is postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is expected to take place by beginning of 2021.
Blaest is jointly owned by Danish Technical University DTU, Force Technology and DNV GL. Opposite to its competitors in Europe and abroad Blaest is operated on purely commercial basis without any public funding.