Wind wake project will improve offshore turbine layouts

Wind farms installed up to 290km off the UK coast could be built more economically and operate more efficiently thanks to a new Carbon Trust project.

The new £2m wake effects measurement project will provide detailed measurement data to the wind industry to help better understand how the wind behaves in complex situations offshore. This is expected to help industry to improve prediction accuracy, reduce financing costs and optimise windfarm layouts as they move further offshore.

The wakes effects measurement project is part of the Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator, an industry collaboration with nine UK wind farm developers to identify and commercialise a series of innovations which can reduce the costs of offshore wind.

Specialist wakes monitoring equipment has been installed on the Rødsand 2 windfarm in Denmark and will measure wakes passing through the wind farm for at least six months.

Carbon Trust believes data gathered from the project will help improve specialist software, enabling developers to better predict how the wind will flow offshore, thereby enabling them to develop better and more efficient designs and layouts. This in turn is expected to increase energy yields from offshore wind farms and improve the economics of the offshore wind projects.

In a statement, Phil de Villiers, head of Offshore Wind at the Carbon Trust said, ‘Bringing down the cost of offshore wind is an absolute priority for the industry. We believe that industry collaboration on key innovation projects that offer scope for dramatic cost reduction is the best way to go.

‘The new wakes effects measurement campaign is very exciting as it will address the shortage of data that has constrained the development of wake effects models for offshore wind.

‘It offers potential to increase energy yields from offshore wind farms and also offer financiers greater certainty on the economics of the projects. We are confident that the data we collect will have a dramatic impact on the future of offshore wind energy; for the better.’

The project is also critical to help open up debt financing for the construction of Round 3 projects in the UK that will be built up to to 290km offshore. At present no UK offshore wind farm has been built with debt finance – in part because of the uncertainties around predicting the energy outputs from wind farms offshore.

This project also offers greater certainty on energy yields as it will help de-risk projects as they seek debt financing.  The project may also result in the layout of offshore wind farms looking very different in the future to how they look today. The project will be of particular value to the 32GW of Round 3 projects as they move into detailed planning phases.