Believe it or not, its been almost 30 years since the first offshore wind farm was built in Denmark. At the time, we would have never guessed the route that this sustainable way of harvesting energy has taken.

 

Well today, we’ll look at the current situation as well as try to predict the future of this industry, looking at EDF Energy’s massive French project.

 

Currently, the total offshore wind output is around 19 GW, but costs still hover at around 2 to 3 X the whole sale price of energy.

 

Predictions vary. The Danish pioneers of Dong Energy, for example, have made the bold prediction that in Denmark Offshore wind farms will be able to match wholesale prices by 2025. Looking at recent trends, this is a reasonably believable prediction.

As another example, we have the U.K, where prices have dropped 50% in the last 5 years. However, the impact of Brexit in this industry is yet to be seen. Investment is bound to be impacted as many foreign companies will slow down capital influxes to the country.

In France, EDF is working on a host of new and exciting technologies. Such as:

 

Technology How it is used
Floating lidar Lidar (from “light” and “radar”) uses a laser to measure distances. Floating lidar is a lower cost alternative to fixed masts and measures the strength and speed of local winds to gauge how much electricity a wind farm in the area could potentially generate
Float-and-sink foundations We are developing a heavy concrete base that uses gravity to anchor the turbine to the sea bed. This is easier to install, and therefore less expensive, than current turbine foundations which require specialised installation vessels and drilling into the sea bed.
Floating turbines We are also investigating floating turbines – This type of turbine wouldn’t touch the sea bed at all, so could be installed in deeper and more remote waters than current designs

Communicating about wind farms

Technology How it is used
Augmented reality app We have developed an app to help reassure anyone who’s concerned about the appearance or location of a new wind farm by providing an impression of what it is likely to look like.

Running wind farms

Technology Application
New cathodic corrosion protection technology Using a more easily corroded ‘sacrificial metal’ connected to the metal requiring protection can slow or stop corrosion helping wind turbines last longer, making them more cost-effective
Remote monitoring We are investigating remote-controlled vehicles which will let maintenance crews inspect turbine foundations without diving to the sea bed.

Monitoring devices will let crews inspect a turbine’s inner workings without climbing to the top.

Ideas like these will help the maintenance fleet use their time more efficiently.