Best new manufacturing technology:
Ahlstrom – AceBlade

As wind is a relatively young industry, a number of competing wind turbine blade manufacturing techniques are still vying for hegemony. As blades get longer – while still needing to retain strength and stiffness without the addition of extra weight – the task for designers is becoming more difficult.

But high-performance composite materials manufacturer Ahlstrom has come up with a breakthrough form of unidirectional glass-fibre reinforcement: AceBlade. AceBlade improves fatigue resistance and the mechanical performance of blades, thanks to its ability to reduce air voids – which affect the blade’s movement through the air – in the vacuum infusion process.

Most impressive offshore innovation: The University of Delaware’s Atmosphere and Energy Research Group – staggered wind turbine placement

Trying to model the effect of a wind turbine’s wake on other downwind turbines has been a headache for developers since the first wind farms were installed, but recent research at the University of Delaware has made progress on this front. It reveals that staggering rows of wind turbines, rather than adopting the more traditional grid-like layout seen at many of today’s offshore wind farms, can reduce the effects of wake dramatically. The Atmosphere and Energy Research Group at the university found that performance could be improved by up to a third.

"AceBlade improves fatigue resistance and the mechanical performance of blades."

"Staggering every other row was amazingly efficient," said Christina Archer, lead researcher and associate professor of physical ocean science and engineering and geography.

After testing various different configurations, it was found that keeping turbines in rows facing the prevailing wind direction, but staggering every other row, was the most efficient way of placing them offshore.

Top inspection, maintenance and repair solution:
Frontier Pro Services – Dynamic ProBalance

An unbalanced turbine rotor assembly can reduce the efficiency of power generation and cause undue stress on turbine components, increasing maintenance costs and decreasing the lifespan of the turbine. Reduced power generation ultimately also loses revenue for wind farm operators, making balanced, fully efficient turbines of paramount importance. To counter these problems, Frontier Pro Services has developed Dynamic ProBalance, which can rebalance turbine rotors to industry-standard ISO balance quality G0.7.

Assessment can be made without even leaving the ground, and rebalancing does not mean the rotor assembly or blades need to be removed; instead, corrective weights are used that don’t interfere with blade aerodynamics. Rather than measuring mass unbalance by relative motion, like most of its competitors, Frontier Pro Services’ system measures unbalance by the effects of gravity, giving a more accurate assessment of the unbalance.

Leader in logistics: Windcat Workboats

Designed specifically for the offshore wind industry, Windcat Workboats’ new fleet of offshore vessels have been designed with the aim of filling the void that oil and gas industry vessels cannot fill by addressing the specific needs of the wind industry.
For example, Windcat Mark IV vessels feature a large foredeck, which is critical in allowing offshore maintenance to take place. With the ability to carry up to 45 passengers in swells of up to 2m, Windcat Workboats has done a lot to increase the accessibility of Europe’s offshore wind farms.

Special award for wind advocacy:Steve Sawyer

An advocate of renewable energy for two and a half decades, Steve Sawyer has served as secretary-general of the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) since April 2007. He is also a founding member of both the REN21 Renewable Energy Policy Network and the International Energy Agency’s Renewable Energy Industry Advisory Board (IEA).

"Dynamic ProBalance can rebalance turbine rotors to industry-standard ISO balance quality G0.7."

Since joining GWEC, he has worked tirelessly to represent the wind industry’s major players, national associations and wind companies, and to forward the wind energy cause at an intergovernmental level. Thanks to his work with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), International Renewable Energy Agency, IEA, International Finance Corporation and the Asian Development Bank, wind power has enjoyed its most rapid growth to date during his tenure, with capacity reaching 282GW globally by the end of 2012. He has also worked with the Chinese Government on the formulation of its renewable energy legislation, as well as expert reviewing for the IPCC’s Working Group III.