Space for more than 130 scientists, a 30-metre-long measurement section and wind speeds of up to 150 kilometres per hour: the inauguration of the University of Oldenburg's new Research Laboratory for Turbulence and Wind Systems (WindLab) took place in the presence of Gabriele Heinen-Kljajić, Minister for Science and Culture of Lower Saxony. "Securing sustainable energy supplies from renewable energies is a central challenge of our times," the minister explained. "The University of Oldenburg has been conducting successful research on renewable energies for many years. With the WindLab the conditions have been created to further strengthen the research in the area of wind energy."
The centrepiece of the new building with its 2,300 square metres of usable floor space is a turbulent wind tunnel which will be used to study the interaction between atmospheric currents and wind farms, wind turbines and their components. The goal is to obtain accurate data about the operational behaviour of wind turbines and large off-shore wind farms. The Federal Government and the Government of the State of Lower Saxony will each bear half of the total cost of the project, amounting to approximately 20 million euros.
With the WindLab and its turbulence wind tunnel we have a unique infrastructure for researching wind energy at our disposal," University President Prof. Dr. Dr. Hans Michael Piper stressed on the occasion of the inauguration. He added that both the technical facilities and the synergies that result from the collaboration within the interdisciplinary team of experts were outstanding.
The four-storey WindLab building will accommodate physicists, meteorologists, oceanographers and engineers. Researchers from the Universities of Oldenburg and Hannover, the Jade University of Applied Sciences, the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology and the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization (in Göttingen) will use the innovative wind tunnel for their work. A group of Oldenburg scientists led by wind energy expert Prof. Dr. Martin Kühn, turbulence researcher Prof. Dr. Joachim Peinke and energy meteorologist Dr. Detlev Heinemann was responsible for the contents of the application for the new research building.
Unlike the wind tunnels that are used for example in the aviation industry, the turbulent wind tunnel in Oldenburg can simulate naturally occurring wind fields – all with the goal of designing wind farms that are more efficient. "Our big vision is to attain a new quality in wind energy research through the combination of free field measurements, numerical simulations on mainframe computers and the new possibilities for experimenting that the turbulent wind tunnel offers, Professor Peinke explained.
The WindLab was designed by the Stuttgart-based architecture firm HammesKrauseArchitekten.