Wind power is making headway around the world as a renewable, climate-friendly source of energy. Lately it has making inroads even into mountainous regions with irregular winds and air turbulence brought on by the rough terrain. ZSW and its partners want to answer the question of how to optimize these systems. The team is planning a field-test research site in the Swabian Alps with two wind turbines and four measure towers.


Dipl.-Ing. Andreas Rettenmeier
+49 711 78 70-229
Structure und dimensions of the field-test research site. Graphic: TUM - LAREG
Structure und dimensions of the field-test research site. Graphic: TUM - LAREG

According to the Global Wind Energy Council, the worldwide installed base is growing every year with new power plants that collectively pro-duce some 63,000 megawatts, around a fifth of which is generated in mountainous regions. Installations on flat terrain are easier to operate than plants erected in rugged terrain where yield forecasts are more uncertain, wear and tear are greater, and maintenance costs are higher. The WindForS research cluster aims to answer the question of how to optimize these systems' performance and extend their service life. In a team headed up by ZSW, these wind energy experts are building a field-test research site at Stöttener Berg near Geislingen an der Steige. This video provides an overview of the research project.

// Quieter, lighter and more powerful rotors

The scientists from Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria aim to improve the technology in many ways, for instance being quieter, lighter and more powerful ro-tors. The Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) is coordinating this ambitious project. Before WindForS carried out a project called KonTest to investigate the location and its prevailing conditions. It showed that the conditions typical at wind turbine sites in complex mountainous terrain and perfect for developing and testing new technologies. Now this project is to be followed up by another named Wind Science and Engineering Test Site in Complex Terrain (WINSENT), the purpose of which is to set up a test site to serve as a platform for research and industry.

// Fresh impetus for the industry

The test site is to be equipped with two wind turbines that each generates around 750 kilowatts nominal output with 75 meters hub height, 50 meters rotor diameter and a total height of 100 meters. One of the project's USPs is that scientists will have unrestricted access to all control technology and engineering data. This way, they will be able to precisely analyze these systems' behavior. During their construction, the wind power plants are to be equipped with measurement sensors from the foundation to the rotor blades.

A wind energy field-test research site of this size and in such complex terrain is considered as one of a kind worldwide, and will be of great importance to researchers and the wind power industry. The results of the analyses will be scalable to large commercial plants and provide fresh momentum for the industry. Another goal of this project is to develop and test a new operating system that enables plants to respond to changing wind conditions with intelligence and greater precision. New machine learning methods will also be used to improve forecasts of wind power feed-in and to optimize models for integrating Power-to-Gas, battery and other storage means into the future energy system.

// Accompanying ecological research

Accompanying ecological research will be conducted to assess in detail the impact on animals and plants in the vicinity of Stöttener Berg. There are also plans to post info panels on a trail around the premises so interested citizens can learn more about the project.


// Funded by federal and federal state government

The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is funding the three-and-a-half-year WINSENT project (FKZ 0324129A-F) with around EUR 10.4 million. Also the Ministry of the Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector Baden-Württemberg is funding the project with EUR 1.2 million.