250 Wind Experts Gather to Discuss the Growth of the Booming Offshore Wind Power Industry

For offshore wind farm developers, the EU’s renewable energy targets promise to unlock a lucrative market – assuming that escalating costs can be curbed. Industry leaders and government bodies are now running against the clock to identify viable cost mitigation strategies.

In order for the UK to comply with the European Union’s Renewable Energy Directive, which dictates that renewable energy must account for 15% of the UK’s energy mix by 2020, it is predicted that 40% of the UK’s electricity needs must be met using renewable sources.

The UK’s renewable energy sector, however, is still at an embryonic stage, with the current level of renewable energy production at just 5%. With an eight-fold increase in production required, the industry needs to act now, and to adhere to a set plan.

The Carbon Trust, alongside a consortium comprising of 8 companies, is attempting to identify the challenges of curbing escalating costs associated with producing offshore wind energy, with a particular focus on the challenges of developing and operating the UK Round 3 zones.

Working with industry partners, the Carbon Trust has identified technology areas that represent a cost challenge: foundations, wake effect modelling, electrical systems, and marine access systems. The OWA is currently at the second stage in its research, and over the next 6 months they plan to:

Undertake an installation cost study for the foundation concepts and identify innovative ways to streamline the installation process
Run a global design competition to identify new concepts for access system for wind farms further offshore
Undertake an engineering design study for higher voltage wind farm arrays
Scope out a measurement campaign for wake effects
Soon the Wind industry will need to move into large scale engineering and Jan Matthiensen, the Offshore Renewable Technology Acceleration Manager at the Carbon Trust predicts: "One of the challenges will be increasing both turbine and system reliability which operate in a safe environment. Additionally, turbines will become larger and installation will be streamlined with new foundations concepts. Fabrication and O&M activities will dominate a large number of port activities."

Matthiensen will be joined by 250 other offshore wind turbines professionals at the 2nd Annual Offshore Wind Construction, Installation and Commissioning Conference. He believes his presentation at this event will help companies "understand which direction technology is moving and what the main drivers for them to invest in new technology".

Topics to be discussed include weather windows for offshore wind farm installations, suitability of new vessels for offshore construction, and how to streamline installation logistics and utilization of new installation vessels.

A select range of utilities, developers, manufacturers, contractors, port owners, vessel suppliers, R&D experts, consultants and service providers are gearing up to debate and discuss these key topics at the 2nd annual offshore wind construction, installation and commissioning conference.