PLOCAN’s Offshore test site

The AIRE project is dedicated to the development of innovative software models, incorporating novel technologies. These models will factor in long-term wind turbine operations and account for extreme weather conditions (in diverse terrains and altitudes). AIRE is gathering valuable data from four experimental sites and four commercial wind farms. This is a blog series where all the eight sites that are part of the AIRE project will be presented. In this occasion, this entry is presenting the North-east test site of Gran Canaria (ES), the experimental real-ocean test site managed by the project partner PLOCAN.

PLOCAN’s Experimental Test Site

PLOCAN’s experimental test site is located at the north-east coast of Island of Gran Canaria, in the Spanish subtropical outmost region of the Canary Islands. The test site is a 23km2 of real ocean extension area influenced by the African trade winds which suffers recurrent calima episodes (sand and dust in suspension) transported by the trade winds from the Saharan desert. This is not exclusive to just this area, it also takes place in other worldwide locations like the Gobi Desert in North Asia. The PLOCAN test site is suitable to study the effect of other precipitations (additional to rain) that can affect the wind turbine. Specifically, the existence of an offshore experimental turbine brings the opportunity to study the impact of calima events in the blade status (Deposition & Erosion).

Test Site Characteristics

Marine Test Site: The testing area of approximately 23 km2 is located off the East coast of the island of Gran Canaria (Spain), at a distance between 2 and 5 km from the coast and with depths covering from 20 to 600 m. The test site hosts an offshore platform, a fixed structure at 30 m depth inside the marine test site, with a net surface of around 2,500 m2 of research capacity distributed in a multi-floor building with a main dock of 1,000 m2. It is in this offshore platform where the measuring equipment is placed. The measuring equipment mounted in the offshore platform includes a LiDAR (an instrument that uses a vertical laser beam to scan the wind, providing measurements at different heights), an Air Quality Station (measuring sensor station based on the use cartridges to detect the presence of substances and particles in the surrounding air), and a Meteorological Station (collection of sensors that measure weather conditions). This will be complemented with SCADA data (information provided by the control program of the device about the performance and status of its components) from one of the offshore experimental wind turbines of the test site.

Experimental Campaign

The characterization of the calima effect in the wind turbines is becoming of greater importance every day, with the proliferation of commercial projects in affected zones. For example, on the south coast of the same island of the test site, Gran Canaria, 19 offshore wind farm projects with a joint capacity of 2,361 MW have been proposed. Additionally, on the last years there is evidence of an increase of the calima influence geographic zone, in 2021 the calima traveled not only to the Pyrenees, yet also to the mountains of France and Switzerland, at an altitude of 2,500 meters above sea level, making it possible that it may affect wind turbines deployed outside the expected locations.

PLOCAN’s Offshore test site will also be the setting of another of AIRE´s experimental campaigns. The team will gather deposition and erosion evidence from the blades of the experimental wind turbine blades, before and after a severe calima event. Using external services, such as drones to gather images, and vertical work companies to gather physical evidence with replication resin (professional material to acquire replication of the deposition in a certain surface – at a precision of 0.1 microns ). This evidence will be used to evaluate the effect over the airfoil aerodynamics performance and wind turbine power production.

Equipment – SPECS

Measuring Equipment of PLOCAN´s Off-Shore test site includes:

  1. A LiDAR (ZX 300M – ZX LIDARS) installed 24m above sea level in the terrace floor of the platform, this instrument uses a vertical laser beam to scan the wind and provides measurements at different heights (160m, 120m, 91m, 70m, 45m, 38m and 20m) of, vertical and horizontal wind speeds, and horizontal wind direction at a sampling period of 1s and 10s.
  2. Air Quality Station (Kunak Air PRO – Kunak), a measuring sensor station, based on the use cartridges. Installed in the external stairs that connect the terrace floor with the heliport, this device provides real corrected data, calculated directly in the device without any delay in an autonomous way. The Station measures: Particles (different sizes: PM1, PM2,5, PM4 and PM10), Temperature, Humidity, Atmospheric pressure, and Dew point among others.
  3. Meteorological Station, a collection of sensors that measure weather conditions, in this case, a Vaisala WXT530, an Apogee Instruments SQ-215 and a SGLUX UV-Cosine, which provide air pressure, temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind speed, wind direction data, UV and solar radiation.

Finally, the test data information for the project is completed with SCADA data from one of the offshore experimental wind turbines of the test site. This experimental wind turbine, owned by the developer Esteyco, is at a distance of 700 meters from the offshore platform, it was installed within the EU projects ELISA/ELICAN (ID: 67474/ID: 691919) and consists of a bottom-fixed and gravity-based concrete foundation, and telescopic concrete tower which hold a 5MW Turbine (SG 132).

PLOCAN’s Impact on AIRE Project

AIRE´s experimental data will be used as input to create updated models and tools that could be used by the industry to optimize wind turbine and wind farm designs. Once the experimental campaigns are finished and the data post is processed and standardized, it will be published in AIRE’s open access knowledge hub.

This project is looking forward to tackling environmental challenges while developing important research and doing data collection work via technology. PLOCAN continues to gather valuable data, serving science, and equipping the next generations.