Report: Innovation can cut offshore wind energy costs by a third

Innovation improvements surrounding the design, maintenance, construction and operations of European offshore windfarms could cut associated energy costs by a third in the next 15 years, a new report from sustainable innovation engine KIC InnoEnergy has found.

In partnership with consultants BVG Associates, the Future renewable energy costs: offshore wind report assesses 52 wind technology innovations that could potentially reduce the overall levelised cost of energy (LCOE) of wind farms in the future.

According to the report, introducing larger turbines with optimised rotor blades would enhance aerodynamics and improve the LCOE by 18%. Eight other areas of innovation, covering manufacturing materials, workshop verification testing and blade control, could all be introduced to improve LCOE by 33% by 2030.

KIC InnoEnergy’s renewables technology officer Emilien Simonot said: “We know that there is a tremendous potential across the value chain for offshore wind innovations to reduce the cost of energy in the future.

“The findings of this report are extremely positive and we are looking forward to working with the offshore wind innovations of the future to drive them to commercial success and reduce the LCOE.”

According to the report, the most impactful innovation that could be implemented across European windfarms is increasing turbine capacity from 4MW to 10MW, saving significant construction, foundation and operational costs. In total, 52 innovations could be introduced to strengthen the sector.

Due to industry expectations, the anticipated impact of certain innovations has actually been moderated downwards, with the report noting that the availability of innovations, some of which weren’t listed, could shape LCOE’s and drive energy reductions further.

European Rush

The report arrives two days after new research anticipated more than 140GW of new wind power will be deployed in Europe by 2025. The research suggests that uncertainty surrounding policy is resulting in a “rush to market” for developers looking to commission new wind solutions.

A European Wind Energy Association report has also suggested that wind energy could be the largest power supply source in the EU by 2030, but only if governments reduce costs and drive ambition in the sector.

The UK Government is already looking to invest in wind farm innovation. With a £500m green innovation investment, the government is looking to implement floating offshore wind solutions – one of the innovations featured in the report.

Additionally, the Scottish Government is already considering other methods of lowering offshore wind costs by collaborating with nine of the largest European wind developers as part of the Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) programme.

Alex Baldwin & Matt Mace

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