Drawing on its considerable experience in the field of offshore oil production, which resulted in bringing to market numerous innovations, in 2011, IFP Energies nouvelles turned its attention to research aimed at coming up with technologies enabling the development of offshore wind power, along with the conversion of wave energy, tidal energy and ocean thermal energy.
Meeting the technological challenges associated with fixed and floating offshore wind power technology
IFPEN’s main fields of activity in the wind power sector relate to three areas, the objective being to identify solutions to reduce the cost of wind power and create new markets:
- The active control of fixed wind turbine technology,
- The integrated simulation of the behavior of wind turbines in their environment,
- The development of floating offshore wind power technologies.
In the field of fixed wind power technology, IFPEN is developing an integrated wind turbine control solution based on a lidar sensor, which provides remote measurements of wind speed and direction, in partnership with Avent Lidar Technology (Leosphere group). The system will be able to accurately detect and anticipate ambient wind and gusts in order to optimize the positioning of the nacelle and blades, thereby reducing the mechanical stresses on the machine.
In this collaborative project, IFPEN is providing innovative signal processing as well as the Lidar sensor and wind turbine control methods. A simulator incorporating the reconstruction of the wind field from lidar measurements and IFPEN’s control strategies was developed in 2013. It generated load reductions on the wind turbine of up to 90% with respect to mast fatigue and 25% with respect to extreme loads on the blades.
The second research area is simulation, the objective being to dimension the wind turbine architecture as accurately as possible, in order to increase efficiency and reduce energy costs. For example, IFPEN has developed a simulation software for the dynamic behavior of wind turbines in their marine environment, using the DeepLines code resulting from its partnership with the SME Principia. Now at the industrial development stage, this software can be used to dimension and optimize the floating support and its anchoring system.
DeepLines Wind™ was successfully validated with respect to its competitors within the framework of the IEA-Wind program’s international benchmark project, OC4. And it is currently being validated within the context of the VALEF project at the ITE France Energies Marines.
Current offshore wind turbines are fixed on solid foundations – metal or concrete structures – at depths no greater than 50 meters. A solution exists to access zones that are further away from the coasts: the installation of wind turbines on floating platforms moored to the seabed. While the potential is considerable and exciting – making it possible to harness more sustained and powerful winds – the technological challenges that need to be overcome in order to optimize the dimensioning of turbines, reduce costs (particularly maintenance) and increase electricity production are numerous.
To address these challenges, IFPEN is developing an innovative floater concept and anchor technologies specific to floating wind turbines.
Press release, April 17, 2014