Ozan Keysan – Middle East Technical University

Researcher Links Travel Grants Recipient

Research Topic: modular and reliable superconducting wind turbine generators

My research visit to the University of Edinburgh focussed on solving the problems with existing wind turbine technologies by using superconducting generators for large scale offshore wind turbine construction.

I was a visiting researcher at the University of Edinburgh for two months between July and September 2015. My visit was supported by the Newton-Katip Çelebi Researcher Links Travel Grants Programme.

Combating climate change is a global challenge that requires serious attention. To reduce the hazardous impacts of climate change, a transfer to a low-carbon economy is essential for many countries around the world. Research shows that people living in under developed countries who contribute minimally to global warming are amongst the most vulnerable population to its effects. Countries such as Turkey, who are expanding and growing their economy, need to find environmentally friendly, economical, and sustainable ways to do this to avoid contributing further to climate change.

Over the next ten years, Turkey is aiming to quintuple the number of installed wind turbines across the country. This rapid increase of turbines will require geographical spaces which cause conflict between the local population and energy companies. The challenge will be in identifying the middle ground between making renewable energy sources more economical for the public while making them more attractive for energy companies to pursue. There are a wide variety of renewable energy sources to choose from. However, wind energy holds the largest share and is rapidly growing in the energy sector.

There has been a remarkable increase in the capacity of installed wind energy turbines which is doubling every three years around the world. By 2014, the total wind turbine capacity had reached 320GW, which corresponds to 4 per cent of the world’s total electric generation capacity. However, wind energy experts point out that the cost of wind energy must be reduced significantly to keep up with this positive trend. One way to reduce the cost of renewable energy would be to find innovative solutions through the application of new materials.

My research visit to the University of Edinburgh focussed on solving the problems with existing wind turbine technologies by using superconducting generators for large scale offshore wind turbine construction.

Carrying wind turbines offshore can solve the problem of space and conflict between populations and companies, but other engineering problems make offshore construction difficult and expensive. The high mass and maintenance issues involved in offshore wind turbine installation currently render the projects inviable. It was precisely these engineering problems that I was hoping to address and solve through my research visit to the UK. We aimed to design a reliable low maintenance superconducting generators for wind turbines. If this could be realised, new technology could reduce the mass by 50 per cent, contributing to the reduction of energy costs, helping to make offshore wind turbines more economically feasible.

The positive outcome of this project is not limited to the decrease of CO2 emissions and environmentally friendly economic growth, but will also bolster economic development and the social welfare of Turkey. The practical implications of such a project could lead to the creation of a new high-tech industry in Turkey, which will contribute to the creation of jobs. Turkey is surrounded by water and taking full advantage of this could make Turkey a hub for offshore wind turbines for surrounding countries adding to the economic value of Turkey and considerably decreasing the prices of energy for the local population.

Newton-Katip Çelebi Fund provided me with a tremendous opportunity to complete a new series of tests to achieve better designs whilst also running experiments to verify my existing design through experiments. Superconducting machines can play an important role in reducing the cost of renewable energy sources and increasing their energy output, but they are extremely difficult to implement by one researcher due to the multi-disciplinary nature of the topic. During my research visit, I worked with a multi-disciplinary research group at the University of Edinburgh, which gave me the chance to work on the different aspects of my research project, which I could not have achieved by myself. . Working with others enabled me to make significant progress in overcoming some of the technical and theoretical issues I faced during my research.

Following my research visit, I had an article published at a conference as well as a highly regarded peer reviewed journal. I was able to meet new people and create networks for future collaborations. In addition, I gave two talks at the UK Magnetics Society Meeting, which was attended by around 80 researchers from across the UK. Thanks to these speeches, I made contacts with the Editorial Board of the IET Renewable Power Generation Journal, who later offered me the position of Associate Editor of the Journal. Furthermore, thanks to this travel grant, I had the opportunity to contact researchers from different universities in Scotland, which evolved into a Newton Fund Institutional Links application between University of Strathclyde, University of Edinburgh and the Middle East Technical University. Finally, during my visit I was able to observe the laboratory facilities of the University of Edinburgh, which I plan to implement at my home institution, the Middle East Technical University.

Overall, visiting Edinburgh has been an invaluable personal and academic experience for me. I was able to familiarise myself with a new research environment, culture and country. I would like to thank the Newton-Katip Çelebi Fund for their valuable contribution to this research project. The visit created multiple networking opportunities, which I firmly believe will be the first step of a long lasting research relationship between the UK and Turkey in my research area.