ORE Catapult Shares Offshore Wind Vision

Service robots, drones, automated motherships and 40-rotor turbines could become the norm for offshore wind farms by 2050, Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult predicts.

Based on the ORE Catapult’s current research and design taking place in the UK, the concept for the future shows how the offshore wind farms of 2030, 2040 and 2050 will differ from today – underlining the technology behind them.

Offshore wind could become the backbone of the UK’s energy mix within 12 years, with pioneering designs and storage technology potentially seeing a third of the country’s electricity demand met by offshore wind, ORE Catapult said.

By 2030, floating wind farms will become the norm, ORE Catapult said, with significantly larger turbines generating over 15MW of energy. Drones and AI-driven monitoring systems will be commonplace, carrying out basic sub-sea repairs and maintenance without human intervention.

By 2040, turbines will be accompanied by a new type of technology –  floating kite power generators. Because the kites are lightweight, the systems use less material than conventional wind technology, so they produce energy at a lower cost, ORE Catapult said.

Turbines will take on a new look, with designs moving from the single-rotor designs we see today to arrays of multiple rotors on a single structure, drastically reducing installation and maintenance costs – as well as generating up to 20MW using small 500kW turbines.

From 2040 onward, vertical axis turbines, now still in their infancy, will start to address the challenges current designs pose in weight, with larger traditional blades becoming less feasible on a tower structure. These vertical axis blades will have numerous other benefits, such as being able to generate power no matter which direction the wind is blowing in.

The rise of the robots will continue with the introduction of the Mothership, a fully autonomous boat that can transfer crew to turbines, as well as more advanced robots and drones, acting both as a charging station and data-hub. These will allow for even more complex tasks and repairs to be carried out than ever before, ORE Catapult said.

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