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Wind power – an independent subject at university

The future belongs to wind power: Martin Kühn is researching into the relevant technologies. He has made a significant contribution to establishing this discipline in Germany.

“When I took on the Chair of Wind Energy at the University of Stuttgart in 2004, it was the only one of its kind in Germany,” says Martin Kühn, who is now professor of wind energy systems at the University of Oldenburg. A lot has changed since then: There are now permanent chairs at several universities, and universities of applied science are also extending their programmes.

Born in 1962, Martin Kühn has made a significant contribution to establishing the subject on the German research landscape. He began studying mechanical engineering at Leibniz Universität Hannover in 1987, at a time when no-one was interested in wind power as a source of electricity. There were scientists conducting experiments with gigantic rotors, but they were no use in practice. However, there was still a sense pushing back the frontiers: the first small companies started trying to interest the market in technologies for renewable energies. Martin Kühn was blown away by wind power: he relocated to Technische Universität Berlin to study with one of the pioneers of wind power research in Germany, Robert Gasch.

A fellowship took the scientist to Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands in 1992. Here he discovered the topic which was later be become his focus: offshore wind power – wind turbines at sea. In his doctoral thesis he examined how these turbines could be made technically and commercially viable. He took his inspiration from the oil industry which had already demonstrated how stable constructions could be erected at sea. In 2000, Enron Wind GmbH in Salzbergen employed Martin Kühn to help them build a wind farm off the Swedish coast. In 2003, he designed the Arklow Bank Wind Park in Ireland, which at the time was the largest in the world.

 

Wind power – an independent subject at university

After five years in industry Martin Kühn returned to academia. His mission was to turn wind power into an independent subject at German universities. To do so, he had to bundle expertise from a whole range of subjects at the University of Stuttgart: physics, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, meteorology and construction engineering. The wind expert managed to build up an international reputation for his department. “The subject is very well-positioned,” says Martin Kühn. However, it has not yet been clearly defined.

In 2010, the ‘professor of the winds’ accepted an appointment at the University of Oldenburg. Here he wants to develop offshore wind power farms which are ideally adapted to the harsh conditions at sea. “We want to use lasers, for example, to measure wind speeds and directions so that the turbines rotate in the best possible position.” In addition to this, Martin Kühn is planning to extend the portfolio of courses which do not currently offer adequate specialisation opportunities for Master’s candidates. And the study programme is also supposed to be designed so that students have a chance of finding jobs in other sectors.

Martin Kühn is certain that wind power will play a central role in future energy supplies. “Wind power already accounts for nine percent of the market in Germany. I believe it’s quite realistic to think in terms of producing 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energies by 2050 – but without wind power this would hardly be possible.”

May 2011

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Comments

sri harsha
2 October 2011

i am doing my master of science in wind energy from university of kiel in germany,how will be the careers for students who pursued their masters in wind energy branch

sri harsha
2 October 2011

i am doing my master of science in wind energy from university of kiel in germany,how will be the careers for students who pursued their masters in wind energy branch

SRI HARSHA
2 October 2011

HOW WILL BE THE CARRER OPPURTUNITIES IF WE HAD COMPLETED MASTER OF SCIENCE IN WIND ENERGY

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