WINDBOX: Advanced Manufacturing Centre to improve competitiveness in the Basque Country Wind Power supply chain
José Ignacio Hormaeche, Begoña Molinete
Basque Energy Cluster, Bilbao, Spain
WINDBOX initiative was launched in 2014 and promoted by the Basque Government as part of the Basque Country's Advanced Manufacturing Strategy. It aims to develop the capabilities of Basque companies in the wind power sector and help them to improve their position in the international market.
A consortium of Basque companies composed by wind turbine manufacturers (GAMESA, ADWEN) and component manufacturers (HINE, LAULAGUN, GLUAL, WEC, ANTEC, MATZ-ERREKA), coordinated by the Basque Energy Cluster, are developing a Wind Power Advanced Manufacturing Centre aimed to integrate and validate subsystems for multi-megawatt wind turbines by means of advanced testing.
WINDBOX main objectives are the following:
WINDBOX will provide fully equipped testing facilities to support the development of products with optimal design and high reliability as well as the consolidation of design and manufacturing processes.
The partners are cooperating in the engineering, specification, design, purchasing and commissioning of the most advanced equipment for the construction of 5 test benches for components and subsystems.
These test benches will simulate the operating conditions of a wind turbine very accurately and allow the following elements to be tested at component and system level:
Hydraulic pitch test bench: aimed at testing and optimizing wind turbines pitch actuation systems and their components under similar conditions to those of a wind farm. Up and running since November 2015. Tests ongoing on a complete pitch system.
Generator slip ring test bench: aimed at testing and optimizing wind power generator slip rings. Currently under commissioning. Tests to begin shortly.
Blade bearing test bench: aimed at conducting tests on the hub, the blade bearings and the bearing-hub and the blade-bearing joints. Currently under construction. Tests foreseen in Q4 2017.
Yaw test bench: aimed at testing and validating the yaw system. Currently at engineering stage. Operational by the end of 2017.
Bolted joints test bench: focused on testing and validation of bolted joints. Currently at concept design phase.
Coordinated by the Basque Energy Cluster and with the support of the Basque Government, SPRI, and the Regional Government of Gipuzkoa, 9 companies set up a partnership with the creation of a private Association: WINDBOX, Advanced Test & Validation Centre for Wind power.
WINDBOX Association will be the owner of the test-benches and responsible of the testing infrastructure operation. Premises are located at IK4-TEKNIKER (Eibar).
WINDBOX is fully aligned with the Basque Government Industrialisation Plan and Smart Specialisation Strategy, and will enable the Basque Country to build specific added-value infrastructure, with which companies will be able to develop industrial products, test systems and validate advanced manufacturing techniques, combining two of the specialisation priorities established to improve the competitiveness of the Basque industry - Advanced Manufacturing and Energy.
WINDBOX is a clear example of fruitful regional cooperation between the Public Administration and the whole wind power supply chain to boost the creation of advanced manufacturing and validation infrastructures, thus improving the competitiveness of the industry.
Applications from interested parties (wind turbine, system and component manufacturers), especially those related to the offshore wind market, are welcome in order to use WINDBOX test-benches and have their products validated by an independent body through cutting-edge facilities in operating conditions close to final real application.