Offshore wind technology ready for application

European research co-ordinated by TU Delft

Offshore wind technology ready for application

The technology for the construction and operation of offshore windfarms is ready for large-scale application. Companies in the fields of engineering and services are preparing to take part. This can be seen in the conclusions of the project Concerted Action on Offshore Wind Energy in Europe (CA-OWEE) of the European Union, in which seventeen parties from thirteen European countries have brought together knowledge on this subject from all over Europe. The Wind Energy section at TU Delft, which co-ordinated the project, has published a final report on the internet: www.offshorewindenergy.org.

The project Concerted Action on Offshore Wind Energy in Europe (CA-OWEE), was funded by the European Commission to stimulate the development of offshore wind-energy into an important energy source. Now that the technology is viable, the most important challenges lie in the reduction of costs, the building up of experience and confidence in the building and maintenance of large wind-parks, the connection of these parks to existing electricity networks and the consequences for the landscape and birds. The authors make suggestions for where further research should be focused.

The European Commission’s project was focused on large-scale exploitation of offshore wind by wind-turbines with a large capacity and high scores for performance, sustainability, availability and reliability. The EU would like wind-turbines that are friendlier for the environment and for which the costs of installation and production are lower than that of current units.

Currently, the largest European offshore wind-turbine park is that at Middelgrunden, several kilometres off the Copenhagen shoreline, in Denmark, with a capacity of 40 MW. This year in Horns Rev, on the western coast of Denmark, a park with a 160 MW capacity will be built and a 100 MW wind-park is planned for construction next year at Egmond off the Dutch coast along with many other locations across Europe. Experts expect that by the end of this decade wind-parks will be built at sea with a total capacity of thousands of megawatts, comparable to that of several coal-fuelled power plants and enough to supply millions of homes. Sweden, Denmark, Germany the Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain and Ireland have advanced plans for such parks on their shores.

In the project Concerted Action on Offshore Wind Energy in Europe, partners from many fields worked together: a public utility, windfarm developers, advisors, research institutes, universities, consultants, an offshore engineering company and a certification body; this is reflected in the broad range of subjects examined.

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