UK Group Plans to Cut the Costs of Offshore Wind

Five major international energy companies have joined forces with the UK’s Carbon Trust in a US $50 million (£30 million) initiative to reduce the cost of energy from offshore wind by 10% or more.

The companies – DONG Energy, Airtricity Developments, RWE Innogy, ScottishPower Renewables and StatoilHydro – are part of a major new research, development and demonstration initiative called the Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA).

Over the next five years, the OWA aims to cut the cost of offshore wind energy by 10% or more through a combination of wind farm cost reductions and performance improvements. It will focus on the short to medium-term, covering key topics related to wind farm design, construction and operation, including:

  • Offshore foundations – developing novel forms of wind turbine foundation with potential for lower capital and installation costs than designs currently in use, including consideration of deep water sites
  • Wake effects – consolidating knowledge about wake effects in large arrays to improve the accuracy of yield assessment processes, allowing wind farm layouts to be optimized and financing costs to be reduced
  • Access, logistics and transportation – developing access systems for wind farm construction and operation that are both economic and safe in order to maximize turbine availability and therefore wind farm yields
  • Electrical systems – assessing opportunities to maximize the efficiency of offshore wind farm electrical systems, minimizing losses in both the intra-farm array and transmission to shore in order to maximize delivered electricity

The initial phase of the OWA will involve a set of detailed feasibility studies, tenders for which will be invited later in 2008.  Large-scale demonstration projects are expected to follow from 2010 onwards.

“We’ve identified a range of opportunities to reduce costs, increase performance and improve the economic viability of offshore wind farms,” said Mark Williamson, director of innovations at the Carbon Trust.

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