Saturday, August 10, 2013

Energy companies go back to college to cut offshore wind costs

Industry teams up with leading universities to reduce steel used in turbine foundations, potentially cutting costs by 40 per cent
Major energy companies are teaming up with three leading universities as part of a project aimed at driving down the cost of offshore wind energy by up to 40 per cent, simply by designing new wind turbine foundations.

The research project, known as PISA, is looking to reduce the amount of steel used in foundations, which currently accounts for most of the 600 tonne weight of a typical offshore turbine.

The thickness of the steel used for each pile is around 100mm, but if this can be shrunk even slightly without compromising on strength it could lead to huge savings spread across the thousands of wind turbines set to be installed in the North Sea by the end of the decade.

The project is being carried out by an industry working group headed by DONG Energy and involving RWE, Statoil, Statkraft, SSE, Scottish Power and Vattenfall, as well as an academic consortium featuring researchers from the University of Oxford, Imperial College London, and University College Dublin.

It comes under the auspices of the Carbon Trust Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA), a UK government-supported initiative established to help accelerate the development of cheaper offshore wind energy.

Bent Christensen, senior vice president of DONG Energy Wind Power, expressed confidence the 18 month collaboration would come up with workable solutions in time for the design and construction of the large Round 3 offshore wind projects in the UK.

"We expect to find significant savings by trimming monopile sizes and finding new ways of installing the foundations, amongst others," he said.

"Consequently, we believe a significant contribution can come from this area towards our efforts of reducing the price of offshore wind power by 35 to 40 per cent by 2020."

The project is running parallel to a number of research programmes looking at the viability of floating wind turbines, which are similarly designed to slash the cost of wind turbines in deeper waters.

Syndicated from Business Green

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