As the world leader in wind power, NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, knows a thing or two about renewable, sustainable sources of energy. With more than 117 wind projects in 20 states, four Canadian provinces and many more projects under development, we’ve become a major player in the energy game. But even experts are faced with challenges from time to time. In this case, the challenge stems from wintery weather.
Because many of our wind turbines are located in extremely cold climates, where Mother Nature can unleash her frozen fury, ice occasionally accumulates on turbine blades. The added weight of the ice can reduce performance, and shorten the lifespan of our equipment. Therefore, our teams work diligently to limit the ice on our turbine blades, which left unattended can impact the performance of the turbine.
At NextEra Energy Resources, we value diversity and inclusion because we know that different perspectives often uncover innovative solutions. And, this is where you come in. We are very interested in identifying, testing and deploying new solutions to limit icing on turbine blades.
Over the years, numerous ice mitigation and ice prevention technologies have been developed for airplanes and helicopters, however, there are a limited number of commercially available solutions that can be used on existing wind turbine blades.
There are two main approaches to the turbine blade icing challenge anti-icing and de-icing:
- Anti-icing technologies prevent the formation of ice. Common approaches involve the generation of heat by different methods, but the installation of anti-icing technologies tends to be time-consuming and expensive. In addition, the active components are more likely to require maintenance or repair than other approaches.
- De-icing technologies remove ice that has already accumulated. Many de-icing approaches involve the use of icephobic coatings. While these coatings are fairly easy to apply for other applications, applying coatings to every blade at a wind project – where wind turbines are several hundred feet in the air – is a completely different situation that incurs greater cost and effort. Also, these coatings are not always durable in the elements and may need to be reapplied frequently, making them more expensive.
Our ultimate goal is to prevent ice from forming on the wind turbine blades; therefore, solutions involving both anti-icing and de-icing components are encouraged. De-icing solutions alone are acceptable if they can reliably improve production efficiency while meeting cost constraints. Data supporting anti-icing and/or de-icing claims is a required element of the submission package.
We are very interested in seeking your ice advice! Finding an innovative solution to limit icing on turbine blades isn’t exclusive to just us at NextEra Energy Resources – the entire wind energy industry would benefit from your creativity. Thank you for your interest, and good luck!