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Exploring Offshore Wind Energy for Maryland

Is the technology behind offshore wind turbines reliable? Is offshore wind energy conversion cost effective? What sort of degradation or potential failures should be expected of the equipment as it ages in the ocean? Should Maryland invest in offshore wind farms to help meet its energy needs? These are the questions Clark School professors Aris Christou (Departments of Materials Science and Engineering [MSE] and Mechanical Engineering [ME]) and F. Patrick McCluskey (ME) will answer after completing a new study funded by Maryland’s Higher Education Commission, the Maryland Energy Administration, and the Exelon Corporation.

The project, "Reliability and Failure Mechanisms of Offshore Wind Energy Systems (ROES)," recently received a two-year, $215,398 Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Challenge Grant (MOWER). MOWER grants are designed to recruit Maryland's research community to develop the technology and deployment strategy necessary for the state to establish a wind power industry and supply chain that is expected to create local jobs.

"The State of Maryland is committed to offshore wind energy as demonstrated by the recent passage of the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013," says Christou, the project's principal investigator. "The University of Maryland is now able to leverage its extensive expertise in renewable energy, reliability, physics of failure, materials corrosion, environmental induced degradation, and wide band gap semiconductor power electronics to assist the state in achieving its objectives."

Christou and McCluskey's teams will conduct research that will determine the reliability of grid interconnected wind energy conversion systems (WECS) and the impact of the marine environment on their mechanical and electronic equipment. Their reliability studies on corrosion and environmental stress degradation will be conducted at the device, component and systems level. According to Christou, this will be accomplished through the development of innovative models and physics-of-failure based protocols.

Overall, the work will address key concerns the Department of Energy has expressed about WECS by modeling the fundamental device and packaging mechanisms that cause failures, and providing design recommendations for improved reliability.

For More Information:

Visit the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Research Challenge Grant Program web site

September 10, 2013


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