Wind expected, brace yourself

The wind energy research community from TU Delft and beyond paid affectionate homage to one of its eminent founding fathers, Dr. Gijs van Kuik, on his retirement

In his farewell speech at the Aula on December 7, 2016, Van Kuik, wind energy professor and director of TU Delft Wind Energy Institute (DUWIND), summed up the healthy future prospects for this clean-energy alternative.

Van Kuik characteristically looked forward with optimism. He emphasised the blossoming prospects for the sector after 40 years of development where wind turbines have scaled up to become the largest rotating machines on earth. He outlined how he sees wind energy’s future contribution to renewable energy supply, its cost, and its benefit to Dutch society.

He endorsed the 2050 An Energetic Odyssey vision, which proposes harvesting the wind energy potential of the North Sea with 25,000 turbines to provide up to 90% of the electricity needs of the countries on its rim. A 35 year multidisciplinary undertaking, he is confident that it is possible judging from the evolution of the sector so far.

He leaves TU Delft well poised to take up the challenge with a research approach at three scales and the intention to double the number of PhD researchers to 80 by 2020. Wind turbines need to be further developed, including the potential of vertical axis floating turbines and airborne wind energy using high altitude kites. At the next two scales expertise in offshore wind farms and their integration into a sustainable power supply system should also be advanced. We shouldn’t forget attention to reducing costs, increasing societal value and curiosity-driven fundamental research to expand the scientific knowledge base and keep it in the vanguard of future developments.

Van Kuik has been a keystone figure in sustaining wind energy research at TU Delft over 40 years. Colleague Dr. Gerard van Bussel, Chair in Wind Energy at the Aerospace Engineering Faculty, started with him in January 1977. He called their experience an adventure in academic life during a symposium the same day reviewing the wind energy sector, its history and the successful research role of DUWIND.

For alumnus Dr. Po Wen Cheng, wind energy professor at Stuttgart University, DUWIND’s successful research programme is bold, balanced and focused, pursued with persistence and flexibility by an open and diverse group of people.

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