Floating foundations for wind farms should be given more emphasis to help access the best offshore wind resources in the UK, according to the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI).
The institute recommends more work should be carried out to develop floating offshore wind platforms, as well as producing bigger, more durable blades that can be assembled close to site to reduce operational costs.
The comments come after the ETI released data from its 10 years of research into UK offshore wind farms.
“Our work has consistently shown that offshore wind can have a significant role in the UK’s energy mix. To date costs have come down significantly – approximately 50% over the last 10 years – but we believe they can come down further through the employment of new policy and technology levers,” said ETI offshore renewables programme manager Andrew Scott.
“The industry needs to increase its practical experience through even further deployment, development and demonstration of new technologies and learn from this to contain operational costs.”
Meanwhile onshore construction has begun for the world’s first multi-turbine floating offshore wind farm, located off the coast of Peterhead in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.
The 30MW Hywind project will use floating bases for its five Siemens 6MW wind turbine generators, which will be tethered to the seabed. The project aims to prove that floating wind on a pre-commercial scale is feasible and profitable, leading the way for floating wind farms on a larger scale.
“This project means a very significant step forward in the floating offshore wind industry, whereby the gap between technology demonstration and commercial bankable projects will be reduced,” said SgurrEnergy senior consultant Marc Costa Ros.
“We are convinced that additional similar projects can and will be built over the next few years, de-risking floating wind and creating attractive investments.”
ETI analysis found that floating foundations would provide the most cost effective solution at more than 50m deep, but at less than 30m deep fixed foundations were shown to provide better value.
Long turbine blades were found to impact on energy costs but without improvements in manufacturing and materials, the blade’s weight negates other performance benefits.
During 2017 the ETI will be releasing additional technical data and reports from projects delivered across its technology programmes over the last 10 years.