How wind energy sensors behave in icing conditions?

Wind energy in cold climates is growing rapidly around the world [1] but measuring the different phases of icing with weather sensors and ice detectors is not an easy task. See a Youtube testing video here.

Sensors and ice detectors are needed to evaluate the risks on wind farm icing in pre-constructions energy assessments and safety as well as to control operational wind turbines during icing events. Some outdoor, full-scale ice detector benchmark tests have been performed in the past two decades but little focus has been put so far on controlled laboratory testing in realistic icing conditions [2] [3] [4]. Thus there is a large need from the industry to develop and test ice detectors for wind power purposes and potentially other industry sectors.

Testing 5 winter seasons in one week

VTT has over 25 years of experience working with icing challenges within wind power sector and today, one high priority topic is revolving around VTT Icing Wind Tunnel (Figure 1) testing. Based on the industry needs and VTT knowhow, VTT has initiated and coordinates an industry consortium project with aim to increase ice detector reliability and substantially reduce time-to-market of new ice detector products. The goal is to shift from current slow ”winter season” outdoor full-scale testing of ice detectors to accelerated, controlled and repeatable laboratory “5 winters in one week” testing at VTT Icing Wind Tunnel. The novelty content of this project is high and the results will benefit both industry and research community.

Project industry partners are Vattenfall AB, Statkraft AS and Labkotec Oy.

Icing Wind Tunnel

Figure 1. Layout of VTT Icing Wind Tunnel, operational since 2008.

So far 6 wind energy sensors have been tested at VTT Icing Wind Tunnel ranging from ice detectors (Labkotec LID) to standard cup anemometers and other “normal” weather sensors used for ice detection today by the wind industry. See some ice cool results in this Youtube video.

See also more information and pictures from WinterWind 2017 presentation “Standardizing ice detector tests in icing wind tunnel”.

As future plans, further analysis of already performed tests will take place. The project continues until end of 2017 and key results and inter-comparisons of sensor behaviour and performance in icing conditions will be presented at WinterWind 2018 conference.

For more information please do not hesitate to contact me.

Ville Lehtomäki VTT

Ville Lehtomäki
Senior Scientist, Wind power
Mobile: +358 50 370 7669
Email: ville.lehtomaki (a)



[2]: B. Tammelin and a. et, “Wind Turbines in Icing Environment: Improvement of Tools for Siting, Certification and Operation – NEW ICETOOLS,” Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland, 2005.

[3]: S. Fikke, G. Ronsten, A. Heimo, S. Kunz, M. Ostrozlik, P. E. Persson, J. Sabata, B. Wareing, B. Wichura, J. Chum, T. Laakso, K. Säntti and L. Makkonen, “COST 727: Atmospheric Icing on Structures Measurements and data collection on icing:,” MeteoSwiss, Zurich, 2007.

[4]: H. Wickman, “Evaluation of field tests of different ice measurement methods for wind power,” Uppsala Univ (MSc thesis), 2013.

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