How Does Built-up Ice Affect Wind Turbines?

Wind turbines are a renewable clean energy source that has seen recent rapid growth globally for their reliability and efficiency. To get the most efficiency out of a wind turbine, locations with good wind conditions are sought after. These locations can be in any type of climate and can range from shorelines to mountains. However, if the conditions become subzero and humid a problem arises for the blades of wind turbines, this being Icing.

What is Wind Turbine Icing?

Built-up ice or icing occurs when humid and cold weather combines to cause a buildup of ice on the blades of wind turbines. This phenomenon can be caused by just the geography or sudden cold snaps, an example of this being the February 2021 Texas cold snap. Due to record-breaking cold and snowfall wind turbines across Texas failed.

How Does Icing Affect Wind Turbines?

A recent field study from Iowa State University has shown the effects of built-up ice on large utility wind turbines. The study conducted in northern China observed that nearly a foot of ice had built up on the blades of the large utility wind turbines. The built-up ice caused a drastic decrease in blade rotation as well as completely stopping some of the large utility wind turbines. The icing of the blades majorly affects the aerodynamics and weight which are essential factors in efficient wind energy generation. The study concluded that icing caused up to an 80% loss of power generation.

Does Icing Affect The Anorra Microgeneration Wind Turbine?

We at Borrum Energy Solutions have implemented multiple solutions for icing. A structural factor that combats icing is our use of black blades, the shade black absorbs light and heat which makes it difficult for ice to form. Another factor is the application of an ice-phobic compound on the blades that makes it difficult for ice to build up. And finally, the Anorra is a microgeneration wind turbine that operates at a much higher RPM (rotations per minute) than a large utility wind turbine which means that ice has trouble forming.


Iowa State University

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