Offshore wind farm control systems in cost-cutting focus

Offshore wind farm control systems will come under the microscope as part of the latest project to come out of the UK Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator programme.

The €2.3m ($2.7m) Wind Farm Control Trials (WFCT) project, backed by developers EnBW, E.ON, Innogy, Statoil and Vattenfall, is designed to demonstrate how honing control strategies across a wind farm rather than on individual turbines can further cut the cost of offshore wind power.

By fine-tuning controls systems, wake effects can be softened to lower the levellised cost of energy by boosting total wind energy yield and reducing fatigue – saving on operational and maintenance costs, and potentially extending the lifetime of offshore assets.

“The project has the potential to have a significant impact on cost reduction with a win-win on improving annual energy production, and at the same time reducing operational and maintenance costs,” said the Carbon Trust’s WFCT project manager James Sinfield.

Paul Cowling, director of offshore wind at Innogy, added: “Working together, the Offshore Wind Accelerator group continues to support the offshore wind industry to deliver projects in the most innovative and cost competitive way, via important studies such as this.”

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During the project, different methods of control, rooted in altering turbine blade pitch and nacelle yaw, will be employed to optimise power production for the entire wind farm rather than maximising production of single machines.

Stoyan Kanev, senior project manager at the Netherlands’ ECN, noted: “This project will be the first one to demonstrate the economic benefits from wake control in real-life experiments at a full-scale offshore wind farm. It will increase the maturity and acceptance of the technology, paving the way towards a large-scale implementation.”

The WFCT project builds on previous studies and simulations undertaken that calculate adopting blade pitch or yaw-based WFC strategies could result in energy yields ratcheted up by 0.5-3.5% – while lightening loads on some turbine components by as much as 50%.

As well as the developers involved in the WFCT project, insights are also being fed in from experts from the Denmark’s DTU, ECN, the UK’s Frazer-Nash Consultancy and wind measurement specialist Windar Photonics.

Windar Photonics chief executive Jørgen Korsgaard Jensen said: “Windar is keen to continue to support efforts to use nacelle-based remote sensing LiDARs [laser-based wind measurement technology] for detecting and measuring wake scenarios in the offshore wind sector.”

The trials are slated to be undertaken next year, with full results expected in 2019.

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