Aalborg University hosted of the most recent meeting of the Hub North business network on 30 November.
Three professors, an institute director, a fundraiser and a matchmaking consultant, all from Aalborg University, came to tell members of Hub North about their roles and what they can do for the wind turbine players in northern Denmark. The talks were brief, but offered insight into the different areas.
John K. Pedersen, Institute Director of the Institute for Energy Technology at AAU, began:
“Rotor gearboxes is our field of expertise, and we are currently looking very closely at hydraulic wind turbines. In short, they have a pump at the top with a tube at the bottom. They weigh nothing and don’t take up much space”.
The institute has launched a series of projects for electronics, particularly in the aim of testing reliability. Danfoss and Grundfos are involved in the studies.
“Storage is the most interesting topic right now. How can we save energy until the time it is needed? Transportation is the biggest problem right now. We are looking at that, as well”, Pedersen said.
Jacob Stoustrup, professor at the Institute for Electronic Systems, talked about automation and control. The regulation of wind turbines is absolutely the main area of expertise. The institute is presumably the world’s largest regulating entity in the industry. Popularly and simply formulated, the message from the professor was the following:
“We need to get the maximum amount of energy out of the wind – without overloading the wind turbine. And the wind turbine must contribute to creating energy in the best possible way”.
A bigger theme at the Institute for Electronic Systems is also the floating deep-sea wind turbines.
“The industry usually calls them ‘frightful problems’, while we at the university rather think of them as an ‘exciting challenge’. Impact at the top and bottom of a wind turbine requires advanced adjustments”, Stoustrup explained.
Involved in the programme are Vestas and a team of internationally recognised researchers, who also supervise PhD students at Aalborg University.
Blade King and bucket foundations
Ole Thybo Thomsen, professor at the Institute for Mechanics and Production, with 100 employees, briefly spoke about the Blade King study, which reduces the production time of a wind turbine blade by one third.
“The partners are Vestas, Siemens Wind Power, Liftra, Suzlon and others. We are constantly in contact with potential partners here in Denmark and elsewhere”, said Ole Thybo Thomsen.
John Dalsgaard Sørensen, professor at the Institute for Civil Engineering, placed special emphasis on load, safety and scour, erosion around the foundations. And the message was reinforced with spectacular images of sea-damaged wind turbines.
Monopile foundations and bucket foundations are included in the institute’s research. John Dalsgaard Sørensen also drew attention to the research area in Frederikshavn, where it is also possible to work with down-scaled foundation types. Special bucket foundations, which are affixed and loosened again using either overpressure or underpessure, are one of the institute’s big ambitious projects.
“They can be secured in all soil types, from firm to hard ground. With Carbon Trust as partner, the foundations are selected to become a prototype for closer study”, John Dalsgaard Sørensen said.
The woman with the money
And along came the women with the money. Or, in other words, the university’s fundraiser, Jane Ehrenskjold Tymm-Andersen, who talked about the billions that Hub North members can seek if they choose to apply for grants. There were sums ranging from DKK 100,000 kroner to nine digit figures in the various funds.
The application sites include the Knowledge Coupon programme of the Ministry of Science; The Danish Energy Agency’s EUDP – the Energy Technology, Development and Demonstration Programme; the Strategic Research Council; the Research Council; the High Technology Fund and various EU programmes, such as FP7 Ocean 2011, which covers research in marine environments.
“Remember that it is possible to make an arrangement with the university, so you can have a PhD student in the firm. In that case, the salary supplement is DKK 14,500 per month”, said Jane Ehrenskjold Tymm-Andersen.
The university is here for your sake
Lene Horn, matchmaking consultant at Aalborg University came to draw attention to the many opportunities for collaborating with the university.
“Aalborg University’s knowledge should benefit companies and society, and we want to help keep jobs in the region. So call us at the matchmaking office instead of spending lots of time trying to find the proper authority if you have an idea for collaboration. We are particularly focused on small and medium-sized companies. And we can help in many ways. Aalborg University collaborates with 600 to 700 universities around the world, for instance, regarding patents and commercialisation. Remember that it is also possible to take in a student intern from the university”, Horn said.
Poul Hededal, Director for Knowledge & Innovation at Rambøll A/S, spoke about the company’s expertise in dealing with the authorities and financial analysis.
“We help identify the right setup and service and manage wind turbine farms out at the site. As far as I know, we are the largest consultants in the world within wind turbines today. Rambøll is a traditional consulting engineering firm. And we are fund-owned just like Carlsberg, meaning we do not have to satisfy any stock market ‘crazies’. We just need to earn money for ourselves, so we can become even better”, the Rambøll director said.
Per Henriksen, CEO of Sander Plast in Nibe, concluded the speeches at the network meeting with a series of simple and bombastic messages concerning the wind turbine industry, which comprises the companies absolute largest area of focus. Read more about Sander Plast under case histories on the Hub North website.
Flemming Eriksen, consultant for Hub North, concluded the meeting by pointing out that the arrival of new members continues at record speed. Today, 77 companies are on the Hub North list of members.
“It is wonderful to see so many members and participants like those of you here at the network meeting. I hope that the day has given you, if not overview, then at least insight”, the meeting chair said.