LCoE
Image credit: DNV

Researchers from UK and US institutions have collaborated on a project aimed at reducing the levelized cost of energy (LCoE) in offshore floating wind.

Wake steering refers to attempts to deflect each turbine’s wake away from downstream turbines, allowing increased overall power production, and a longer lifetime of the turbine through reduced fatigue damage.

The CONFLOWS (CONtrol of FLOating wind farms with Wake Steering) project is using funding from Innovate UK and the US National Offshore Wind Research & Development Consortium (NOWRDC) to test how using wind-farm control strategy, wake steering, on floating wind farms can help reduce the LCoE.

The research project will run to March 2023 and include from the UK: DNV, Durham University and Marine Power Systems who will combine expertise on wind resource, wake modelling, wind farm control, floating platform design and economic modelling.

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DNV will lead the project and continue the development of LongSim, a dynamic wind farm simulator and optimizer for wind farm control applications.

Durham University will lead efforts in developing steady-state wake steering models and calibrating them against high-fidelity data. Marine Power Systems will lead on the sizing of its WindSub floating platform to support the reference NREL 15MW horizontal axis turbine and will manage the modelling

From the US: led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), in partnership with Cornell University and Equinor, researchers will focus on the potential for offshore wind in specific regions in North America and will perform optimisation studies using wind farm control.

The studies will explore the effects on project costs of wake steering. Both sides will share data and knowledge beneficial for the modelling of site-specific meteorological conditions and complex wind farm wake scenarios due to wind farm control applications, to advance the offshore wind industry as a whole.

Pierre Sames, Senior Vice President, Group Research and Development Director at DNV, said: “As the floating offshore wind sector develops, we need research to understand whether technology proven for onshore wind farms can deliver similar impacts on improving energy production of offshore floating wind farms.”

An example of the scale of the improvements to be made is Hywind Scotland, Equinor’s world-first floating offshore wind farm which achieved a levelized cost of energy of £180/MWh. However, the typical LCoE of a fixed offshore wind farm in the UK is well below this at £55/MWh.

There is growing interest in novel wind farm control strategies which can improve the operation of the wind farm as a whole, rather than controlling each wind turbine as if it was operating in isolation from its neighbours.

“The floating foundation used for this study,” explains Graham Foster, Chief Technical Officer at MPS, “utilizes a tensioned mooring that provides a fundamentally more stable platform against which control forces can be applied and resists twist compared to catenary moored platforms. This technology could be more suitable to support wake steering for optimizing the wind farm output.”