A £6.4m research and development scheme announced today by the Carbon Trust aims to develop technology that would decrease the cost of generating offshore wind power to £100 per MWh by 2020.
The scheme is a new phase of the Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) programme, coordinated by the Carbon Trust, which involves leading European offshore wind developers including DONG Energy, EnBW, E.ON, Iberdrola, RWE, SSE, Statkraft, Statoil and Vattenfall.
The research will focus on improving the efficiency and availability of existing and future offshore wind farms, as well as reducing cost by introducing innovative technology.
The firms involved will invest at least £6.4m into the research over the next four years, to which the Scottish government will add some £1.5m.
“Over the last five years the cost of energy from offshore wind has decreased significantly, largely driven by a combination of innovation, risk reduction and increased deployment rates,” said Tom Delay, Carbon Trust’s CEO.
“We need to continue building on this success by getting the right solutions into market quickly to put offshore wind on the path to cost competitiveness by 2020.”
The OWA programme, launched in 2008, has contributed to a wide range of innovations including the development and demonstration of new wind turbine foundations; the development and adoption of 66kV cabling; improvement of wind resource measurement and modelling, as well as new innovative access vessels. Overall, the OWA has delivered more than 125 projects ranging from feasibility studies to multi million-pound full-scale technology demonstrations.
OWA members RWE, E.ON, Vattenfall and Statoil were among a group of companies behind an open letter published earlier this month pledging to cut the levelised cost of offshore wind energy to €80 per megawatt hour by 2025. The aim is to make the renewable source fully competitive with traditional means of energy generation.
“It is vital that the industry continues to work together in order to drive down costs in offshore renewables,” said Jonathan Cole, Managing Director of Iberdrola Offshore. “The North Sea is the world's leading offshore wind development area, and the collaboration between large international developers here is a welcome move towards securing and delivering affordable low carbon energy generation.”
2015 saw a record number of new wind installations in Europe, according to the European Wind Energy Association. Estimates from the International Renewable Energy Agency show that the number of jobs in the European offshore wind industry increased twelvefold between 2007 and 2014 from 6,370 to 75,000.