Helge Aagaard Madsen

Helge Aagaard Madsen's 40th state anniversary 1 November

Monday 02 Nov 20

Helge Aagaard Madsen has always several irons in the fire and he is not afraid to open up new paths in his work as a research specialist at the Department of Wind Energy. On 1 November he celebrated his 40th state anninversary.

Helge is currently the project manager on a EUDP-supported project that focuses on utilising even low winds for the production of wind energy which is new in wind energy research. Helge talks about the idea behind the project: "If we are to cover most of our electricity consumption with wind energy, we must be able to utilise the low wind, better than today," he says and continues: "In the LowWind project, which is what we call it, we are therefore working on developing longer wind turbine blades and a larger rotor. ” Helge hopes that his research into low winds will help set a new trend, and he is experiencing great interest in the area within the industry. Vestas is participating in the project, and at the recent TORQUE 2020 conference, great attention was paid to the presentation of the first version of a 3.4MW LowWind wind turbine with a rotor diametre of 208 metres.

Another research project that involves Helge is at the test centre in Høvsøre on the west coast of Jutland. Here, it is planned to measure the pressure distribution on wind turbine blades in full scale, i.e. on real wind turbines, to be able to map how the aerodynamic properties are on the blade. “We have developed a so-called pressure belt, which is placed around the wind turbine blade and can thus measure the aerodynamic force at specific places on the blade. It is completely unique,” says Helge.

Helge has been involved since Research Centre Risø began researching wind energy in the mid-1980s. It is a testimony of his many years of work together with another of DTU Wind Energy’s grand old men, Flemming Rasmussen. He says about Helge: “Helge has in a unique way managed to combine a really good theoretical basis with the practical and the innovative. He always has several things going on at the same time, and he has completed many complex projects with unusual courage and ingenuity - but always without any unnecessary big gestures. He has many new ideas, and it is a pleasure to be a part of.”

The most important milestones

Asked what the most important steps in his research have been, Helge highlights his first international EU project from 1986, where the other partner was Cranfield University, UK. Subsequently, Helge participated in other international consortia under the auspices of the EU and the IEA (International Energy Agency) which meant that early in his career he was able to network within the wind energy environment in various countries and in the EU system. This meant that in 1983 he was invited to participate in a review panel of researchers under the auspices of the EU that evaluated new project proposals for future research contracts.
Helge also talks about the EUDP collaboration in 1997-2002 which was a research project on aeroelasticity. "It gave a great deal of freedom to get the EUDP contract because it meant that we could work with the research in a five-year program," Helge remembers. He also mentions the development of so-called wind turbine blade flaps where technology development really started at the Department of Wind Energy in 2007. Flaps are movable, flexible trailing edges on wind turbine blades which are used to optimise production and reduce the load on the blades. Through three EUDP supported projects, first the INDUFLAP I and II projects from 2010 to 2018, and most recently VIA's project, the technology has now been developed to be tested on a full scale. 

Another highlight in the series of research projects was the Dan-aero project which ran from 2007-2010 and dealt which with detailed aerodynamic measurements on full-scale turbines. The project was successful and only possible "due to the foresighted people of the industrial partners (Vestas, Siemens, LM and DONG Energy) and support from EUDP," as Helge modestly says.

Finally, Helge mentions a milestone, for himself personally, but also for computer modeling in wind energy: the results of his PhD project from 1983 that dealt with the development of an aerodynamic simulation model for vertically axes wind turbines. His model from that time is today implemented in the DTU software HAWC2 which is used globally to calculate the aeroelastic properties of wind turbines.

Helge is the author or co-author of almost 400 articles, conference papers and technical reports.
He is married to Esther, and the two live in Roskilde and have four children aged 27-34 years. One of them, Mads Holst Aagaard Madsen, has followed in his father's footsteps and is a postdoc at DTU Wind Energy.