Offshore wind turbines of the future should have much larger blades, resulting in lower costs and cheaper electricity, according to the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI), a U.K.-based company formed with private companies and the U.K. government.
ETI's Helm Wind project was set up to deliver improvements in the economics of the offshore wind power station of the future. The project brought together multinational power companies with wind energy and offshore experience from E.ON and BP, power systems and engineering expertise from Rolls-Royce and the research and design capabilities of Glasgow's University of Strathclyde.
Because offshore wind turbines have generally been designed for onshore use and then adapted for deployment at sea, this has led to high capital and operational costs, reliability issues and a cost of energy that is higher than from onshore turbines, according to ETI.
Annual offshore farm availability needs to be increased to 97% to 98% or better, and technical uncertainties need to be reduced to allow farms to be financed in a manner, and at costs, equivalent to onshore wind today, according to ETI.
The project found that costs could be around 30% less than current state-of-the art offshore wind turbines, with the potential for additional savings as the technology is developed further.
‘The project has shown that sufficient improvements could be made through technology innovation to deliver energy costs that are comparable with the current onshore wind costs, as well as identifying that the optimum turbine size for offshore is significantly larger than the current state-of-the-art ones being developed,’ says David Clarke, chief executive of ETI. ‘The information that we have learned from Helm Wind along with other projects in our offshore wind program will now be analyzed further and inform our next projects that help to provide affordable, reliable and secure energy sources for the future.’
Helm Wind was one of three ETI offshore wind projects, which have already been completed, that looked at new turbine design concepts along with Deepwater and Nova. The insights from all three projects will be used by ETI to develop its offshore wind strategy, which is expected to see an offshore wind demonstrator project commissioned this year.
SOURCE: Energy Technologies Institute