Atlantic Wind Consortium

This U. S. Department of Energy-funded project, (DE-EE0003535) Advanced Offshore Wind Energy – Atlantic Consortium, has created an industry-university consortium, carried out several research projects to advance wind turbine technologies, and created a program of graduate study in offshore wind power. To make U. S. university research more relevant to the wind industry, and to advance wind companies in this fast-developing technology field–these two sectors need more engagement than we have seen to date.

To accomplish a more synergistic relationship, the University of Delaware has organized an industry-university consortium. University research participants are from UD, the University of Maryland and Old Dominion University. The activities of the Consortium includes multiple lines of wind power research, and creation of new graduate and advanced undergraduate courses relating to wind power from various disciplines. Both research and course content are reviewed and advised by a Board of Industrial Advisors from the wind industry. New reports from the researchers are being added to this site as they become available. This grant involved both direct research and regional capacity-building. Any findings, opinions, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this report are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Energy.

An industrial advisory board was formed to provide feedback and oversight on research programs to ensure their relevancy to industry.

The activities under this project are described below, with links to programs and research products, including:


2-MW Turbine in Lewes, Delaware


The test platform for both research and educational activities is the utility-scale 2-megawatt Gamesa G90 turbine, on the UD coastal campus in Lewes, Delaware. The site location is within salt-spray distance of the Delaware Bay, making it an easy-to-access test site that will have many of the salt, wind regime, and environmental characteristics of an offshore site. Between six and eight tours of the facility are being conducted each year, including federal and state officials, educators, and communities considering a small number of utility-scale turbines. Also, worker and student training programs were supported, including two maintenance climbers and five research climbers. All research climbers are graduate students working in several aspects of wind power.



Curriculum Development and Student Exchanges


Professors at the University of Delaware developed new graduate level courses in wind power. These can be found in the education section of this website, along with faculty members and curriculum outlines and/or syllabi.

Along with the above courses, a Certificate Program is being developed for both Master’s students, and working professionals who want advanced training in wind power topics. This course is one of the first in the nation to provide graduate interdisciplinary training across engineering, policy, and science aspects of wind power. It is also the only one specializing in offshore wind power. More information can be found in the Education section of this site.

Two colleges at the University of Delaware, College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment and College of Engineering, have formed a student exchange agreement with the Danish Technical University for graduate students studying or researching either wind power or electric vehicles. Graduate level students can spend a semester at the other University, learning in areas not necessarily being taught at their home institution. Students from both Delaware and Denmark are already utilizing this program.


Extreme Wind Events & Design for Offshore Wind Structures


Extreme wind events like hurricanes and northeasters and, at a smaller scale, fronts and thunderstorms create extreme stress on offshore structures and sub-sea power cable systems. Consortium experts have prepared reports and held workshops to support those developing offshore wind resource estimates as well as designing, operating and constructing wind facilities offshore. The two reports include: Professor Larry Atkinson at Old Dominion University (under sub-contract to this award) on the climatology and meteorological events in the Mid-Atlantic offshore region, and Bruce Williams’ report on design parameters for wind turbines in the Mid-Atlantic (funded by DOE grant, Wilmington Canyon Integrated Design, DE-EE0005484). Figure at left is from the Atkinson report, Frequency of occurrence of wave height by month, at the NDBC station CHLN2.

On November 8, 2012, the Atlantic Wind Consortium organized and led a workshop entitled, “Meteorological (MET) Research for Wind Power in the Mid-Atlantic: Measurement Paths Forward.” Significant meteorological research, measurement, and modeling are being carried out in the Mid-Atlantic region. The workshop intended to inform the wind industry and other stakeholders – there were 15 professionals in attendance – about various projects and how they might interact in the future to combine skill sets and resources. The concept of this workshop was that industry representatives, via the Atlantic Wind Consortium Industrial Advisory Board, and attendant professionals would review the expected data and analyses in the context of industry uses of MET data and models. The agenda and several power point presentations (by B.Demoz (Howard University), D. Leathers (UD), L.Sparling (UMBC), D. Veron (UD), and B. Williams (UD)) are included.

Corrosivity and Coastal Wind Turbines

Consortium researchers, led by Marine Biosciences Professor Stephen C. Dexter, are carrying out practical, empirical research on corrosion. Corrosion in the marine environment affects service life, maintenance, performance, and thus ultimately cost. The activities of this task area centered on working with Gamesa on the 2-MW Lewes Turbine to select a location for and build the electronic corrosion monitoring sensors and data acquisition system using plain carbon steel test panels. Ultimately, the research evaluates the corrosivity of the present turbine site in comparison to other sites along the US Atlantic coastline and contributes to long-term measurement of the effect of coastal atmosphere on metals used on wind turbines. Photo at left shows corrosively samples atop the nacelle, Lewes, Delaware, September 2011.

On December 5, 2013 Professor Dexter made a presentation to the Board of Industrial Advisors on his corrosivity work. This link will show you the slides from his presentation, explaining the basis of his research for this grant. The final samples on this research were removed in September of 2013 and the study completed in late 2013. To review Professor Dexter’s full final report on Corrosion, please click here.

Tower Structures

Researchers designed and built a tower structure monitoring system, using both strain gauges and accelerometers, and tested the system first in the laboratory and then on the existing Gamesa wind tower in Lewes. The data on offshore tower dynamics has been modeled. In addition, data on the G90 tower motions will be collected to validate the model.

Gearbox Tribology

Gearboxes are well known in the wind industry as one of the turbine’s weakest links. To achieve the increased reliability and lower cost levels needed to achieve the DOE 20% wind deployment goal, gearbox reliability must be improved. Our gearbox effort includes on-site monitoring of the Lewes turbine as well as controlled laboratory studies of bearing failure. The first step was to coordinate with the NREL gearbox reliability collaborative (GRC) and make use of existing databases and the modeling results to obtain best estimates of the load and speeds encountered under various wind-load conditions. The Consortium experts in gearbox condition monitoring and tribology was led by David L. Burris, an Assistant Professor in the University of Delaware’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. The figure at right shows the effect of lubricant and contaminants on friction and wear.

Linked here are Professor Burris’s slides from the December 5, 2013 presentation to the Board of Industrial Advisors. They talk about his work to date for this grant work.

Gearbox Reliability

Gearboxes can be monitored effectively using fiber optic sensor arrays mounted to the outer casing of the gear box. Vibration signatures can be monitored, and used to identify if a fault has occurred and classify gear faults such as tooth cracks, spalling, or other wear or damage that may occur during actual operation. The objective of this task will be to assess the feasibility of utilizing a fiber optic sensor array to measure vibration signatures and to detect gear tooth faults using this data. Under sub-contract to this project, the University of Maryland’s (College Park) Minta Martin Professor of Aerospace Engineering Norman Wereley and his staff are producing a report on gearbox condition monitoring and gear fault detection.

Fiber optic sensor array, scaled down for testing.

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