Nacelles Put to the Test

Copyright: © Peter Winandy

Induction of the Center for Wind Power Drives, CWD. The NRW Construction and Real Estate Agency, BLB, in Aachen has handed RWTH the key to the research building. The centerpiece of the new building on Campus Melaten is the four megawatt test bench for wind energy plants.


The 4-megawatt WTsystem test rig, developed at RWTH Aachen in collaboration with partners from industry as part of a Hightech.NRW project, makes it possible to test wind turbines under real world conditions in the lab. Even though wind power plants are already widely used, they need to be further developed and improved. As CWD director Professor Jacobs explains, future wind power facilities must become more durable and reliable, and they must be able to actively cooperate with production networks.

The new functions of the test rig have the potential to accelerate and improve development processes of future wind energy facilities. More than 50 experts from seven departments in the Faculties of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering now have the opportunity to use the new test facilities of the CWD when working on large-scale projects for the new and further development of wind energy installations.

Joint research activities will take place under one roof in the CWD office building, which helps to intensify networking activities and foster innovation. The building comprises the testing space including an installation area, a workshop, technical service areas, storage spaces, as well as offices and social rooms, which provide a high-quality research environment. Nacelles with a weight of up to 100 tons and a length of up to 14 meters can be analyzed using the test rig.

The CWD is part of the Heavy-Duty Drives Cluster on RWTH Aachen Campus, which is concerned with research and development on drive systems and components, considering complete systems as well as the performance characteristics of individual components in the overall system.

Key research areas are powertrains for wind energy installations and construction machinery. Development work concentrates on the improved reliability and energy efficiency of the individual components as well as the overall system.

Funding from the Federal and State Governments

The Joint Science Conference of the federal and state governments, GWK for short, approved the RWTH proposal for a new Center for Wind Power Drives in 2011. The German Council of Science and Humanities recognized the scientific and industrial-political relevance of the proposal’s goal to enhance the reliability, durability, and efficiency of wind energy facilities and provided funding of about 25 million euros for the new faciltities, including the system test rig.