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Germany Expands Wind Research and Forms Network of Experts

The Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology (IWES) has joined forces with the ForWind wind energy research center to form the National Wind Energy Research Association.

The new group, consisting of more than 400 researchers, engineers and administrators, will network with other research institutes within the country’s wind energy industry. Under its “Wind Energy 2020” initiative, the group plans several projects to develop systems and infrastructure that will expand the use of wind energy in a cost-efficient, sustainable and competitive way.

The move comes as Germany gives greater priority to renewable energies, in particular wind power, in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The goal of the German government is to generate at least 35 percent of the country’s electricity needs using renewable energy sources by 2020.

ForWind combines the wind energy research programs at German state-funded universities in Bremen, Hanover and Oldenburg. Fraunhofer Institute IWES is a member of the Fraunhofer Society, consisting of some 60 institutions focused on various areas of applied research. The research society receives about 30 percent of its funding from the German state, with the rest coming from contract work.

The combined research infrastructure of the German universities and Fraunhofer IWES together with more than 30 networked research institutions is equipped to support both basic and applied research projects. That infrastructure includes a supercomputer for flow simulations, the world’s biggest wave flume and a test facility for rotor blades that have a length of up to 90 meters. The planned scope of research is extensive, extending from energy meteorology and rotor blades to the power train and supporting structure.

“By combining our research activities, we are in a position to keep pace with the international research associations that set the tone in Denmark and the United States,” said Andreas Reuter, head of Fraunhofer IWES.

ForWind and Fraunhofer have already been cooperating to organize a wind power cluster of more than 300 research institutions and wind energy enterprises in northern Germany into a business and research network.

The two partners have also been jointly involved in subprojects of two major European initiatives, the Joint Programme on Wind Energy of the European Energy Research Alliance and the Wind Energy Technology Platform.

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