Meet the future Andrea Gamberini

Meet the future - Andrea Gamberini

Energy Wind energy

Industrial PhD students in wind energy provide valuable collaboration between DTU Wind Energy and the wind turbine industry.

DTU Wind Energy works closely with the wind energy industry on research into and development of the utilisation of wind energy. Part of the collaboration takes place in the shape of industrial PhD students who are employed in companies and have one supervisor at the company and one at DTU Wind Energy.

Industrial PhD student Andrea Gamberini's research

One of the industrial PhD students is Andrea Gamberini, who is employed by Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy and works closely with the Section for Airfoil and Rotor Design at DTU Wind Energy. Here, his supervisor Athanasios Barlas works as a senior researcher, and Andrea appreciates the cooperation with him. “My supervisor and the professors in general are always willing to help and share their thoughts, and that is nice,” says Andrea.

Andrea’s project is entitled “Advanced model development and validation of Wind Turbine Active Flap System,” and his work is related to the design of wind turbine blades. A flap is a moving part on the trailing edge of a wind turbine blade which can potentially be used for reducing the wind load on the blade and improving the energy production, ultimately reducing the cost of the wind energy. The design of a reliable and effective flap system has proved to be challenging for the researchers and till now the systems have been tested in small scale wind tunnel tests or at small wind turbine prototypes without a real industrial application. In Andrea’s PhD project, he has access to the data from the first full scale wind turbine prototype equipped with flap in order to validate and improve the current flap models. Andrea clarifies: “Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy is testing a new flap system on one of their wind turbine prototypes, where the flaps are placed on the last 20 meters of a 60-meter-long wind turbine blade. By using field data from this prototype, I can validate the current model of the trailing edge flaps used in the HAWC2 software and further improve it. This will increase the reliability and accuracy of the design of future wind turbine equipped with a flap.” HAWC2 is DTU's code which is used to calculate the loads and performance of wind turbines.

The way to DTU Wind Energy

Andrea’s interest in wind energy started back in his native country Italy in the university city of Bologna, where he graduated in aero-space engineering with a thesis related to wind energy. After graduating, he got a job in a company in the Italian wind energy sector but when the opportunity for a career in the “Load and control” department of Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy appeared, he took the chance and moved to Denmark in 2014. Here, he worked as a load engineer, designing wind turbines but after six years he wanted to further develop his knowledge in the field of wind energy science. “I wanted to improve my understanding of the theory behind my job. I was lucky to find a project at the company in which I was interested, so I applied for funding to Innovation Fund Denmark. After getting an approval of it I started my industrial PhD project as a student in June 2020,” says Andrea. In spite of a few challenges, regarding the return to student life after 10 years working in the industry, he has no regrets. By combining his supervisory course at DTU Wind Energy with the research activities at Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, Andrea experiences that he gets all the way around in research into wind energy: “I work both theoretically, modelling flaps with DTU's HAWC2 code and applying this concretely in the validation on a full-scale wind turbine from Siemens Gamesa,” he says.

How is your research going to be applied in practice?
Andrea Gamberini has no doubt that Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy will use his results in the development of their wind turbines, and he hopes that within the next five years they will see results in the form of reduction of loads, not only on the blades but on the entire wind turbine. Making larger components will then be possible, leading to a greater energy production at a lower cost.
He imagines that his research will be applied especially on large offshore wind turbines and perhaps in the field of floating wind energy – a research field which is given a lot of attention at the moment. It is quite possible that other companies might follow Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, he believes.

Life as an industrial PhD student

Why DTU Wind Energy?
“DTU Wind Energy is known as a place which is at the forefront of research in wind energy,” says Andrea enthusiastically, “and because Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy was already working with DTU Wind Energy it was easy for me to find a supervisor here.”

What is it like to be a PhD student with connections to DTU Wind Energy and the industry, too?
Andrea is happy with his connection to the Department of Wind Energy and says: “Here is an open culture and it is nice that you can go straight and talk to each other.” At the same time, DTU Wind Energy works for different companies and the protection of the commercial data is taken very seriously. The issue on data protection did create some challenges, though. At the beginning, his interaction with DTU Wind Energy was limited due to its data protection rules. However, after an initial period of adjustment, a balance has been found so he is able to work with the university colleagues without being exposed to confidential information.

Do you have some good advice for future PhD students and industrial PhD students at the department?
“Yes: Get the best out of it and be flexible because much might change along the way. For example, it could be that your prototype is not working,” says Andrea and elaborates: ”If things do not go as planned, then navigate again.”