Zurich – The Clockwork City

Last week I was lucky enough to be able to share my work with some of the top European researchers in the field of wind energy at the 8th PhD Seminar for Wind Energy in Europe (see “Publications” section for the work I presented). The event was hosted by ETH Zurich, one of the world’s most prestigious universities that can claim Albert Einstein as its most famous alumnus! They did a fantastic job of welcoming delegates from all across the continent and wowed us all with their array of techno-gadgetery that included fast-response probes mounted on remote control planes or kites and a fully kitted out LiDAR van for measuring the flow field in an actual wind farm.

Inside ETH’s remote control plane for experimental wind measurements around a full size wind farm.

ETH, like the rest of Switzerland, runs like clockwork. Everything is on time, everything is where it is supposed to be and everything is of exceptional quality. Although it is definitely somewhere I would like to study/work one day, I’m not sure if I could live here forever because everything is just a little too ordered. By the end of the trip I was actually quite looking forward to being back in the grimey chaos of our mouldy little island in the far corner of the continent.

At the front of the spectacular main room!

I presented the first power curve we produced just last week on Scoraig and it went down really well. At the end of the presentation I compared our results to those of a wind tunnel study from TU Delft and it turned out that the professor who supervised this project was in the audience. Naturally he was quite pleased that both sets of results matched so closely!

The spectacular view from the spectacular main room. Puts Sheffield to shame!!

On the final day, we were supposed to visit the world’s highest wind farm at well over 2000m, however heavy snowfall in the Alps meant that we instead meant that we went to Switzerland’s biggest wind farm at Mount Croeso. It was quite a surreal experience, as the wind turbines were completely surrounded by herds of blissfully unaware cows. In true Swiss style, each cow was perfectly manicured and each had a shiny cow bell around its neck. As you can see in the video below, the scene was peaceful, yet strangely hypnotic. I recommend thinking of this scene late at night and counting the number of times the blades rotate as a contemporary alternative to counting sheep.

Read more about the 8th PhD Seminar on Wind Energy in Europe here.


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