Growth in the European wind energy market has led to the manufacture of larger turbines (~ 7.5 MW). There are several challenges associated with these turbines, particularly offshore, e.g., vibrations/ damage of the flexible blades, mechanical drives/electric converters. These raise maintenance concerns and result in operational downtime, impacting on power systems and supply reliability. For these reasons there have been huge R&D investments creating the requirement for highly trained manpower in Europe.

The SYSWIND network trains future engineers and scientists in truly multi-disciplinary and newly emerging scientific areas and technologies for next generation wind turbines. There are six research themes: new structural health monitoring (SHM), wireless sensor network (WSN), multi-body systems (including aerodynamics and geotechnics), semi-active vibration control, composite materials and power system modelling. In addition, complementary non-scientific training such as on commercialisation and IPRs will be provided to enhance the career prospects of the researchers.

Besides sixleading Universities from Europe, the network includes (A) 1 SME specialised in R&D for wind turbines and geotechnics as full partner, (B) 4 companies training 7 researchers on WSN, vibration control and wind energy trading, (C) additional partners transferring complementary skills geared towards wind energy specialists, and (D) world class research groups such as from Stanford in the US, pioneers in the research fields addressed.

The strong involvement of the industry will shape the training needs of the researchers and increase their employability. The association with the leading experts will aid the career development of the researchers and raise their profile. The network has the potential to establish new mutually-recognized inter-institutional courses jointly with industry partners, and thus strengthen the growth and competiveness of the wind energy sector.