Weather warning

Forewarned and forearmed: Renewable firms need to ensure equipment can withstand harsh weather conditions

Manufacturer of wind turbine structures, Hutchinson Engineering, is reminding renewable energy firms to ensure their equipment can withstand the harsh weather forecasted this winter

Hutchinson Engineering is advising companies to ensure that wind turbine monopoles are designed and manufactured by a company experienced in structural analysis and fatigue monitoring.

The warning comes after 15ft-long turbine blades flew off three structures during 112mph winds inScotlandlast year.

With the gale season fast approaching, Ivan Brocklehurst, technical director of Hutchinson Engineering explained: “Our monopole towers are designed and built to robust specifications in accordance with current Eurocodes and relevant international standards, combining to form arguably the most stringent structural benchmark in the world relating to wind turbine support structures.

“We apply scientific principles to the design of all our wind turbine structures. This includes comprehensive 3D Finite Element Analysis (FEA) to allow detailed visualisation which indicates the distribution of any potential stresses and displacements under various loading conditions.

“FEA also allows entire designs to be constructed, refined, and optimised before the tower is manufactured.”

Dean Drinkwater, managing director of Hutchinson Engineering, explained: “One of our clients, Nova Wind, tests the tower behaviour during simulation research in locations such as the freezing temperatures ofAlaskaand the high winds of the Scottish highlands. With this, we are able to evaluate intended function, strength capacities of each section, economics of operation, safety elements, and the life span of the tower.

“Environmental factors should be considered during the design process – but unfortunately this is not always the case in engineering. We are lucky to have a strong design team at our fingertips.”

Hutchinson Engineering says it is the market leader in wind turbine support structures for 1kW to 50kW technologies – and the company has been operating for over 25 years. A patent has recently been awarded to the firm for its mast invention.