Innovation in installation processes for offshore wind plant

Why is this gap important?

Soft costs for offshore wind take up a substantial share of total installed costs, and together with interconnection they are a key challenge for reaching SDS cost goals. Offshore wind farms also need to incorporate high levels of resilience to stronger wind regimes and meteorological conditions off shore, particularly to mitigate the impact of long-term exposure to seawater.

Technology solutions

System design needs tool development to minimise loads across the components to optimise for specific conditions including offshore, cold and icy climates, or tropical cyclone climates. Today's standards and model tools are based on European sea and meteorological conditions, and will have to innovate to continue to be relevant as wind power expands to new regions in the US, Japan, Korea or emerging economies. Improving model tools requires measurement campaigns both in the field and in controlled test facilities. Changes in design architectures and an ability to withstand a wider array of design considerations including surface icing, and rolling and pitching moments, are also likely to be needed.

A number of innovations can potentially improve the installation of offshore wind plant. Pre-commissioning of onshore wind turbines is a market-ready solution, where the rotor and turbine can be assembled onshore in the short term (TRL 10). In the medium-term, concepts for integrating structures could deliver further gains including joint installation of turbine and foundation (TRL 9). 

Pre-commissioning of onshore wind turbines Readiness level:

Joint installation of turbine and foundation Readiness level:

Colored bars represent the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of each technology. Learn more about TRLs

What are the leading initiatives?

A number of simulation projects in place aside from commercial opportunities, including the Far and Large Offshore Wind Programme at ECN in the Netherlands.

The European Wind Energy Technology Platform, as well as the Offshore Wind Cost Reduction Task Force both have initiatives in place to accelerate installation processes. The UK Offshore Wind Catapult is a leading example of tools to accelerate deployment.