GE Renewable Energy has announced the construction of the world’s largest test rig for wind turbine rotors.

The company says this will also be the most technologically advanced rig in the world, increasing the company’s testing capability for large rotors.

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A consortium of GE Renewable Energy, LM Wind Power and TNO will build the rig. This will take place at LM Wind Power’s WMC Technology Center in Wieringerwerf, Netherlands, under a three-year STRETCH project. The Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs has agreed to partially fund the project.

LM Wind Power Engineering vice-president Hanif Mashal said: “With this innovative rotor rig, we will be able to verify in-house the pitch bearings and pitch system that fix the wind turbine blades to the hub and allows pitching blade maximizing captured energy while reducing loads on the wind turbine.

“This capability will provide our customers with a better understanding of the dynamic behaviour of large onshore and offshore rotors and will help LM Wind Power design ultra-large rotor blades by stretching and improving the existing designs.”

The new rotor test rig will enable GE Renewable Energy to verify the strength and the dynamic behaviour of wind turbine rotors under the mechanical loads caused by large blades.

In a statement, the company said the test rig would help it improve existing design tools through digital twin concepts and  contribute towards the design of larger rotors.

Construction and commissioning of the test rig are expected to finish by November this year.

TNO Wind Energy research and development manager Peter Eecen said: “Larger turbines are essential to shape the much-required energy transition. Without innovations, larger turbines would become too heavy and too expensive to be commercially viable.

“Fast-paced innovation in wind turbine blade and rotor design, materials, construction and manufacturing have made the up-scaling of offshore wind turbines feasible and attractive around the world.”

Earlier this month, GE Renewable Energy signed an agreement with Walcha Energy to develop a 500MW pumped hydro storage project in Australia.