A new study from KIC InnoEnergy has concluded that wind farm technology innovations could see the levelized cost of electricity for European offshore wind drop by 33% by 2030.
According to a new, updated report from technical consultancy BVG Associates and European sustainable energy accelerator KIC InnoEnergy, there exist a number of technology innovations which could further bring down the cost of European offshore wind energy over the next several years. Specifically, the report identified more than 50 technology innovations which the authors considered “as having potential to cause a substantial reduction in [Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE)] through a change in the design of hardware, software, or process.” Two-thirds of the total anticipated technology impact upon European offshore wind energy is achieved through nine specific areas of innovation (shown below), the largest of which is the increase in average turbine size from 4 MW to 10 MW.
The report is based on a cost model based on four points in time — its baseline of 2014, 2020, 2025, and 2030 — as well as the turbine size (4, 6, 8, or 10 MW), and site types (measured in distance from shore, water depth, wind speed, and total farm capacity size).
The total contribution to reductions in LCOE, therefore, is said to be as much as 33%, reached between 2014 and 2030. Some of these savings are relatively logical and on-the-surface — with increasing turbine capacity, larger wind farms won’t need as many turbines, which will see cost decreases in turbines, foundations, and construction. Some turbines likely to be seen in the near future will be able to access higher, and therefore stronger winds, increasing their efficiency — not to mention the likelihood that in the future wind turbines will benefit from more efficient development, manufacturing, construction, and operation.
Specifically, the report determined that upfront investments in engineering and site characterization is expected to reduce LCOE by about 3% over the next 14 years. Increases in turbine power ratings will impact the LCOE by 18%, while other innovations in the turbine nacelle will reduce the LCOE by about 6%, innovations in rotor components by 7%, and balance of plant innovations by 4%.
The combined impact that technology innovations identified by the report’s authors are anticipated to have on European offshore wind projects with varying combinations of wind turbine size and site type are as follows:
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