Why is offshore wind energy expensive compared to onshore wind power?

This time next week Amsterdam will be a hive of activity for anyone interested in the offshore wind energy sector. We spoke to Heiko Ross from Windreich to uncover what he thinks will be the hot topics at his session at EWEA’s OFFSHORE 2011 conference…

Why is offshore wind farm expensive compared to onshore wind turbines?

Offshore wind energy is a new development in the design of wind turbines, their installation and operation. This wind power market is going to start in the next years and cannot be compared with the mature onshore wind. Today, onshore wind is the “cash cow”, but offshore wind will be the “rising star”.

Will it get cheaper in the future?

As turbine technology is developing and the cost per kWh can be reduced by greater energy yield, there is a huge development to be expected in serial production of wind turbines and foundations, installation technologies and at the end an improvement in operation and maintenance. As one shall never say never, offshore wind will be competitive with onshore wind in the future.

What role will new technology play in bringing prices down?

As turbine size is not an issue offshore, we see development of wind turbines with rotor diameters of more than 150 m with nacelles of a similar weight to today’s multi-megawatt-turbines. This is one of the main steps to reduce the cost per megawatt ratio.

What else does the sector need to help the cost of offshore fall?

Operation and maintenance costs will be significantly reduced with cluster concepts, where the operation and maintenance of greater amounts of wind turbines can provide synergies.

What do you hope to get out of OFFSHORE 2011 in Amsterdam?

Information about current developments and – of course – reports on experience with existing offshore wind power stations. Learning from experience is another important factor to help to reduce the cost of offshore wind energy.

Zoë Casey, blog.ewea.org/