About the UPWARDS Project

The UPWARDS project was launched in April of 2018 with the goal of making possible the development of bigger and better designed wind turbines, thus increasing the capacity of societies all over Europe and the rest of the world to harness wind-energy.
This goal is being pursued though the development of the next generation of multi-physics simulation capabilities specialized in wind flow, turbine mechanics and the interaction of the two of these. These simulation tools will enable more cost-effective and more rapid development of wind turbine prototyping. This is an essential capability as the larger the wind turbines become, the more economic unfeasible physical prototyping becomes, thereby hindering wind turbine development and wind-energy advancement.
This ambitious project is strategically important for the future of sustainable development in Europe and is being implemented thanks to the involvement of a consortium of 11 partners (companies, research institutes and universities) across 8 countries and 2 continents. SINTEF is acting as the coordinating entity for the project and is working in conjunction with its partners to create the simulation framework and tools needed to make the next generation of wind turbines a reality.


The Importance of Wind-energy at the Global Level

Wind energy is the fastest growing source of renewable electricity generation, as the worldwide production has almost doubled between 2011 and 2015, reaching 487 GW of total installed capacity in 2016 and over 800 GW forecasted by the end of 2021 This represents 1,155,000 Jobs created by the global wind industry at the end of 2016. The global capacity is expected to nearly double in next five years with 520,000 people expected to be employed by the wind industry in the EU by 2020.


Relevance of Wind-energy to the EU

Improving the quality and quantity of wind turbines is key to achieving the EU’s climate and renewable energy targets for 2030 and beyond, and the global 2°C set by the Paris COP agreement. In 2016, wind power avoided over 637 million tons of CO2 emissions globally. At the same time, EU seeks to improve the European competitiveness on wind energy as outlined in the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET Plan), focused on developing large-scale turbines in the range 10-20 MW. Currently, the largest wind turbine in the world is the Vestas 8 MW turbine with a rotor diameter of 164 meters and the world’s longest wind turbine blade is LM Wind Power’s 88.4 meters long blade. The increase in size is needed in order to accelerate the development and deployment of cost-effective low carbon technologies.


Significant Impact needed in several areas

Numerous economic, technical, social and environmental aspects inhibit the development of wind parks. In some cases, the costs of wind turbines may be prohibitive and the design of large wind turbine needs to be optimized in terms of material use and reliability, while in other case the siting of wind turbines may interfere with environmental functions, such as landscape preservation.


Moving towards the future with the UPWARDS Project

Up-scaling of rotor size requires further optimization of aerodynamic and structural performance, and imposes new physical phenomena that needs to be better understood in the design process. UPWARDS will develop a high-performance computing (HPC) framework for integrated high fidelity dynamic simulations. The HPC simulation framework represents next generation of dynamic multi-physics and mechatronic simulation technology. By continuing development beyond the UPWARDS project, this HPC framework will pave the way for extensive virtual prototyping of wind turbines, that will speed up wind turbine development and reduce the need for prototype testing. Several aspects of wind turbine technology can be exploited with high fidelity simulation.

Key challenges for development of larger and more efficient wind turbine rotors addressed by UPWARDS:

  1. Turbulence originating from atmospheric conditions, terrain or wind turbine wake that causes significant fatigue on the rotors.
  2. As rotors become larger the tip speeds increase, resulting in more noise that potentially prohibit use in many onshore locations.
  3. Longer and more slender blades will experience more bending that results in complex, dynamic stresses that need to be accounted for in structural design and material qualification.