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Wind Energy Looks Set to Become Cheaper

05 Oct 10:00 by Steve Walia

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A new study suggests that offshore wind energy costs in Europe could become significantly cheaper if new technologies and improvements are fully implemented in a timely fashion. This means that Europe's wind farms could enjoy a reduction in levelised energy costs of up to 33pc by 2030. For this to be achieved, however, the latest efficient rotors and larger-sized turbines would need to be used in existing and new wind farms alongside a series of other cost-reducing measures.

New Findings

The findings were released by KIC InnoEnergy, an investor in sustainable energy technologies, working alongside BVG Associates as technical consultants. The research used an offshore wind energy costing model to assess how 51 new technology innovations in the field could slash operating and energy costs, spanning software, process, hardware and design improvements.

Necessary Changes

Changes included in the model were use of bespoke vessels, larger operating equipment capable of working in diverse weather conditions, better upfront investment for enhanced engineering studies and site assessments and the use of mass-produced deep-water support structures, designed to cope with new and larger turbines.

The report's authors released a statement saying that there was a 'tremendous' amount of value-chain potential to benefit from in the field of wind energy innovation in order to drive down future energy costs. With just nine identified areas of innovation implemented, cost savings of up to two-thirds were possible in the model, including array layout optimisation and better blade aerodynamics. 

The innovation shown to have the largest single impact on cost reductions was a larger turbine of 10MW - up from the current standard of 4MW. This change would require fewer turbines in total, leading to lower construction, installation and maintenance costs. The news certainly bodes well for the offshore wind energy sector.