Offshore wind: Winds of change

Winds of change

The EDF Group is working to install up to 1.5 gigawatts of offshore wind power across France, and is doing intense research and development with the aim of helping to move the technology forward. This research is led in EDF Energy R&D UK Centre, in very close collaboration with EDF Energy Renewables, owner of the EDF Group’s first operating offshore wind farm.

Because wind power is renewable and doesn’t involve burning fuel, it releases less carbon dioxide than energy generated from coal, oil or gas. We are concentrating our research on making offshore wind less expensive to see if it can play an even bigger part in the fight against climate change.

Lessons learned

EDF Energy has been involved in offshore wind since 2013, when the 62 megawatt Teesside Offshore Wind Farm was commissioned in the north-east of England.

Managing Teesside has helped us better understand all the variables involved in building and running offshore wind farms.

Ideas we’re developing

Our research and development teams are working on new technologies with the aim of helping to reduce the cost of building wind farms and to keep them running smoothly. Below are examples of some of the work we are doing:

Building wind farms

Technology

How it is used

Floating lidar

Lidar (from “light” and “radar”) uses a laser to measure distances. Floating lidar is a lower cost alternative to fixed masts and measures the strength and speed of local winds to gauge how much electricity a wind farm in the area could potentially generate

Float-and-sink foundations

We are developing a heavy concrete base that uses gravity to anchor the turbine to the sea bed. This is easier to install, and therefore less expensive, than current turbine foundations which require specialised installation vessels and drilling into the sea bed.

Floating turbines

We are also investigating floating turbines - This type of turbine wouldn’t touch the sea bed at all, so could be installed in deeper and more remote waters than current designs

Communicating about wind farms

Technology

How it is used

Augmented reality app

We have developed an app to help reassure anyone who’s concerned about the appearance or location of a new wind farm by providing an impression of what it is likely to look like.

Running wind farms

Technology

Application

New cathodic corrosion protection technology

Using a more easily corroded ‘sacrificial metal’ connected to the metal requiring protection can slow or stop corrosion helping wind turbines last longer, making them more cost-effective

Remote monitoring

We are investigating remote-controlled vehicles which will let maintenance crews inspect turbine foundations without diving to the sea bed.

Monitoring devices will let crews inspect a turbine’s inner workings without climbing to the top.

Ideas like these will help the maintenance fleet use their time more efficiently.

Remote monitoring

We are investigating remote-controlled vehicles which will let maintenance crews inspect turbine foundations without diving to the sea bed.

Monitoring devices will let crews inspect a turbine’s inner workings without climbing to the top.

Ideas like these will help the maintenance fleet use their time more efficiently.

Blowing down costs

Each improvement we make can help to cut the cost of accessing the UK’s abundant offshore wind resources. Generation from this source is nearly zero-carbon energy and is one option that can help the UK achieve the target of reducing carbon emissions by 80% by 2050.

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