The Carbon Trust: Floating LiDARs Prove Their Worth

The Carbon Trust has announced the completion of the world’s largest trial of floating Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) systems.

During the four-year trial a range of floating LiDAR devices were deployed alongside existing offshore met masts to enable the comparison of wind speed and direction measurements.

Over the course of the campaign five systems were tested at six different sites across Europe, including Babcock at Gwynt y Mor; FLiDAR at Gwynt y Mor, Narec (now ORE Catapult Blyth), and Neart na Gaoithe; EOLOS FLS200 at IJmuiden Met Mast; Fugro Oceanor Seawatch Floating LiDAR at East Anglia ONE; and Fraunhofer IWES Wind LiDAR Buoy at FINO1 Met Mast.

Following the trials, many of the devices tested are now being deployed by offshore wind farm developers in commercial campaigns, reducing the need for traditional offshore met masts which will lower pre-development and development costs significantly, the Carbon Trust said.

Savings of up to 90 percent are possible, based on a typical investment of EUR 10 million for a met mast, according to the Carbon Trust.

Floating LiDAR is also said to be quicker; both through the planning process and deployment to the measurement campaign site.

Richard Khaira-Creswell, Senior Measurement Engineer at DONG Energy, said: “The Carbon Trust’s floating LiDAR trials have been highly valuable to us in DONG Energy. The framework, established by the Carbon Trust, has enabled the development of floating LiDAR concepts – in terms of technical performance, as well as practical issues of safety and reliability. This work has made significant progress towards a mature and robust technology which is accepted across the industry, and will lead directly to reduce the cost of energy.”

Prior to these trials, the main barrier to wider deployment of floating LiDAR was a lack of validated data showing that these solutions could offer the levels of accuracy required by offshore wind project financiers at a fraction of the cost and deployment time.

Michael Stephenson, Project Manager of OWA Wakes and Wind Resource research at the Carbon Trust, said: “This project is a further testament to the collaborative approach taken by the offshore wind industry to reduce costs. By supporting floating LiDAR manufacturers in this way, the industry benefits by reducing the risk associated with new innovations as well as gaining hands-on experience of how this technology works.”

Through the process of the trials the systems were validated against the Carbon Trust OWA roadmap for commercial acceptance of floating LiDAR technology, which is now the accepted industry standard for commercialisation of systems. To help developers effectively deploy floating LiDAR systems the Carbon Trust also released the OWA Floating LiDAR Recommended Practice last year.