By Renewable Energy Focus staff

The ETI’s Helm Wind project aims to deliver step-change improvements in the economics of the offshore wind power station of the future, bringing together multinational power companies with wind energy and offshore experience from E.ON and BP, power systems and engineering expertise from Rolls-Royce and the research and design capabilities of the University of Strathclyde.

To make offshore wind competitive, electricity costs need to be in line with current onshore wind costs by 2020 and with conventional generation by 2050. Annual offshore farm availability needs to be increased to 97-98% or better, and technical uncertainties reduced to allow offshore wind farms to be financed in a manner, and at costs, equivalent to onshore wind today.

30% cost reduction

The project has found that costs could be around 30% less than current state of the art offshore wind turbines with the potential for additional savings as the technology is developed further.

ETI Chief Executive, Dr David Clarke, says: “This project took a completely fresh look at all aspects of offshore wind turbines to identify concepts and technologies that could deliver significant reductions in the cost of energy.

“It examined everything from the rotor diameter and speed, the number of blades, whether they should face upwind or downwind, drive-train options and support structures.

“The project has shown that sufficient improvements could be made through technology innovation to deliver energy costs that are comparable with the current onshore wind costs as well as identifying that the optimum turbine size for offshore is significantly larger than the current state of the art ones being developed.

“The information that we have learnt from Helm Wind along with other projects in our offshore wind programme will now be analysed further and inform our next projects that help to provide affordable, reliable and secure energy sources for the future.”