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As previously reported, electricity generation from wind power is the most important source of renewable energy in Germany. In 2018, wind energy accounted for more than 20.4% of net electricity generation. However, the locations available for further expansion today are limited and usually have lower wind speeds. German law also stipulates a minimum distance of 1000m between wind turbines and populated areas. This helps to reduce the negative impact on residents (noise pollution, shadows). In order to pursue further expansion, a new generation of wind turbines is required so that even with low-velocity wind electricity can be generated in the MW range and cause as little disturbance to the nearby residents as possible.

The research project IndianaWind addresses these challenges now. A group of German universities, research institutes and companies are currently working on this issue in order to find solutions for the further expansion of wind energy. Future plants are to be built with less material, less weight and at lower cost. The rotor blades are particularly suitable for making further improvements in efficiency. For instance, reducing the thickness of the rotor blades enables operation at lower wind speeds. At the same time, the savings in material make the rotor blades stiffer and more stable. A wider surface area also provides the wind with a larger area for power transmission. The optimisation of the surface area will also ensure minimal noise emissions, so that noise should no longer be an issue for nearby residents.

At the same time, the project partners are researching improved methods for predicting wind yield. The methods for analysing the acoustics and aerodynamics of wind turbines are to be improved and made available for industrial use. The researchers will be relying on methods from meteorology, which calculate the air flow. These methods will also be used to calculate wind loads at potential locations in order to obtain a more precise forecast of the wind yield. Taken together, the research results will produce a series of innovative developments and new technologies that can be used by wind turbine constructors, project planners and financing partners.

Due to the great importance of wind energy in Germany‘s industrial policy, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is funding this research with €2.1 million between 2019 and 2022.