VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has conducted the first ever study into the feasibility of building wind turbines across the globe in areas where cold climate and icy conditions place special demands on wind turbine technology. It is estimated that between 45 and 50 GW of wind energy will be built in cold climates by 2017, with investments amounting to about EUR 75 billion.
“There has been a lot of talk about the potential of offshore wind power but the market for cold climate wind energy is more than ten times greater. We already have the tools to harness the potential of cold climate wind energy cost-effectively, while offshore wind energy is still at the research and development stage,” says Research Scientist Tomas Wallenius from VTT.
In addition to Scandinavia and Canada, cold climate areas also include parts of Central Europe, the United States and China. Cold climates represent encouraging potential for wind energy companies because of their sparse population and favourable wind conditions. However, turbine blades are highly susceptible to icing. Although icing causes production losses of 3–10% per year, losses can be reduced with the help of anti-icing systems.
“Our research shows growing demand for anti-icing solutions, which are also developed by VTT in Finland. Another good example of a pioneer in this field is Labkotec Ltd, which is the global market leader in ice detection technology. With good engineering, the challenges posed by cold and icy conditions can be overcome in a financially viable manner,” says Wallenius.