In places like Texas, where wind-turbine icing is rare, stopping the turbine may be the cost-optimal solution. To minimize production loss due to icing, a combination of forecasting, detection and mitigation should be used. Better predictability also lets operators determine if and when to shut down wind farm operations altogether. There are instances when the sun can melt the ice. If models indicate severe icing probability, ice forming too thick or too fast, then stopping the wind turbines will be the action to take. In this case, forecasting plays a big role in mitigating outage risks.
In areas where icing may happen more often, it may be advisable to also consider ice-prevention measures. Ice prevention systems allow wind turbines to continue operating during winter months. There are a number of ice prevention systems that include passive systems such as ice-phobic or ice-resistant coatings, and active systems such as hot air or electro-thermal systems.
Ice detection and ice prevention technologies are improving, and their costs are going down. Energy production in the cold season with strong winds and high electricity prices is a big opportunity for wind turbines. But it requires better forecasting, early detection and risk mitigation.
Sam Salem is the regional manager of Wind Cluster for USA and Canada. Peter Nyegaard Jensen is the managing director of Wind Cluster ApS in Denmark.
This story uses information from previous original Windpower Engineering & Development and Wind Systems reporting, and Lasse Hietikko, Business Development Manager of Wicetec, was interviewed for source material.