Cold climate areas have gained more focus recently in attempts to reach higher wind energy targets. Wind resources in cold climate areas are typically good, and combining these resources with typically low population densities makes cold climate areas attractive for wind development. Increased experience, knowledge, and improvements in cold climate technologies have made projects in cold climates more competitive with standard, milder climate wind projects. By end of 2015, the global wind capacity operating in cold climates was approximately 127 GW; however, only a portion of this wind turbine fleet is designed for icing and low temperature conditions. Between 2016-2020, an additional 60 GW of new installations is forecasted (12 GW of annual growth) to the global cold climate market making it truly a substantial share of total global wind energy installations. This means that the stimulus for further development of wind power projects and technology in cold climate areas is strong.
However, icing and low ambient temperatures pose special challenges for wind energy projects. Icing of wind turbine rotor blades reduces energy yield, may shorten the mechanical life of turbines, and increases safety risk due to potential ice throw. Low temperatures can affect a turbine’s mechanical lifetime if they are not taken into account in turbine design by using appropriate materials.
To meet the demand for cold climate installations, turbine manufacturers have developed technical solutions for low temperatures of their standard turbines. First-generation commercial solutions for de-icing wind turbine blades have also entered the marketplace. R&D activities have been conducted in a number of countries to master the difficulties that atmospheric icing and low temperatures create. These research activities aim to improve the economics of wind power at new areas around the globe. The coming years are important to validate the fresh information and knowledge, and to analyze the performance of the adapted technologies arising from the wind energy projects going on, as well to gather more information.