In its effort to reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses, Germany plans to generate up to 85 percent of its electricity with renewably-generated energy by 2050. However, wind, solar, and other energy sources currently cover only about 30 percent of the country’s electricity needs. In other words, there is still a long way to go. Furthermore, these energy sources must become cheaper if their use is to expand more rapidly, because energy from fossil fuels is still more affordable. With this in mind, Siemens has established energy research and development centers in Aalborg and Brande in Denmark, Keele, UK, and Boulder, Colorado. Each of these locations has its own research focus.
In Boulder, for example, specialists are studying aerodynamic rotor blade design, structural analysis, and wind forecasting technologies. Siemens’ facility, which is located in close proximity to government-owned research centers such as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), facilitates cooperation on joint projects. The research center in Brande has special test rigs to test large wind turbine components such as generators, main bearings, and entire nacelles. Siemens also has seven test rigs in Aalborg, where it tests entire rotor blades, including the largest offshore rotor blade now in use, which is 75 meters long. In Keele, the company is developing electrical components such as the Siemens-Netconverter, which converts the electricity generated by wind turbines into 50 hertz alternating current that is compatible with power grids.