Reducing Offshore Wind Cost through Forecasting (TU Delft)

Advanced meteorology helps reduce the costs of offshore wind turbines and improves the power production forecast, thus making the operation more profitable, according to research by Maarten Holtslag from TU Delft.

Holtslag, who has a master’s degree in meteorology, conducted a PhD research in wind energy at the FLOW research program on Far and Large Offshore Wind energy, which aims at a cost reduction of 20% or more for offshore wind.

“We’re doing fundamental research on air flows, but at the same time the outcome is directly applicable to wind energy,” Holtslag said.

According to Holtslag’s PhD thesis, turbines nowadays are sturdier than needed: “Wind shear (a large difference in wind speed with height, ed.) and turbulence both contribute to loads on a wind turbine that result in material fatigue. Consequently, wind turbines are built to resist those loads. But we have shown that high wind shear and strong turbulence do not coincide.”

During winter, the relatively warm seawater causes lots of turbulence in the air, which flattens the wind profile. In summer, the situation is reversed with little turbulence and significant wind speed differences with height. The relationship between wind shear and turbulence, and the finding that they never coincide means that the tower is typically designed to withstand loads 30% higher than expected, and for the rotor this is about 10%.

Holtslag estimates that his analysis can reduce the cost of offshore wind energy by 1%.

Precise and localised wind forecasts can also be used to improve the production estimates for a wind farm. Energy companies need to know the production in advance to make an offer on the day-ahead power market. Falling short or overproducing may result in fines. Therefore, a better forecast is welcomed, according to Holtslag.

Read the full article on TU Delft.

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