£30m scheme to cut cost of offshore wind farms

A £30 million programme to cut the cost of offshore wind farms has been announced recently in the UK.

As per the new initiative, called the Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA), the focus would be on to cutting the cost of offshore wind energy by 10 percent or more through a combination of wind farm cost reductions and performance improvements.

For this, The Carbon Trust, which has planned the scheme, has signed a groundbreaking agreement in offshore wind with five international energy companies: DONG Energy (Denmark), Airtricity Developments (UK), RWE Innogy (Germany), ScottishPower Renewables (UK) and StatoilHydro (Norway). This marks the start of a major new research, development and demonstration initiative.

The OWA represents the Carbon Trust's part of its joint initiative with the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI), launched in December 2007.

Mark Williamson, director of Innovations, the Carbon Trust, said high costs and risks have been seriously holding back deployment of offshore wind projects.

" We've identified a range of opportunities to reduce costs, increase performance and improve the economic viability of offshore wind farms. This new collaborative initiative brings together five leading energy companies to encourage technology innovation and significantly accelerate growth in the sector at this crucial time," he said.

The OWA will cover key topics related to wind farm design, construction and operation, including:

 1.     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.

2.     Wake effects – consolidating knowledge about wake effects in large arrays to improve the accuracy of yield assessment processes, allowing wind farm layouts to be optimised and financing costs to be reduced.

3.     Access, logistics and transportation – developing access systems for wind farm construction and operation that are both economic and safe in order to maximise turbine availability and therefore wind farm yields; and

4.     Electrical systems – assessing opportunities to maximise the efficiency of offshore wind farm electrical systems, minimising losses in both the intra-farm array and transmission to shore in order to maximise delivered electricity.