Cutting Costs for Future Offshore Wind Industry

Cutting Costs for Future Offshore Wind Industry

The strategy of the European wind industry up unto 2030 is to develop offshore wind turbine technology into being the most competitive energy source.

The target from the EU Commission is that the sector should cover a third of European electricity demand by 2030. By 2050, wind power should supply half of the electricity demand – which by that time is expected to be around 4,000 TWh annually. A significant part of this energy production is to come from offshore wind farms.

These plans call for substantial technological research, innovation and development. Based on the cost structure of offshore installations, this means that there is a need for upscaling in order to lower the cost of energy (CoE). A theoretical maximum size for offshore wind turbines is not yet known. Current sizes are the result of engineering feasibility and cost limitations.

One way to upsize the wind turbines is to develop innovative products and incremental improvements, another is to lower the CoE by changing to mass production where possible, thus benefitting from economies of scale.

As part of a CoE reduction strategy for wind power the EU Commission initiated the sizeable international research project Upwind to discover and explore the foreseeable technical barriers of upscaling wind turbines to 10-20 MW. The following articles are mainly based on this research.

The Upwind project lasted 60 months and involved European universities, utilities and key suppliers. The coordinating institution was Risø DTU, Denmark. Financial support was granted from the Sixth Framework Programme for Research and Development of the European Commission.

Press Release, June 28, 2013