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Offshore Wind Journal

Offshore Wind Journal

Holistic offshore control strategies to be put to the test

Wed 10 Jan 2018

Holistic offshore control strategies to be put to the test
The windfarm control trials project aims to improve energy yield and reduce operations and maintenance costs

A multimillion Euro project will investigate the best use of windfarm control systems to maximise energy production while reducing turbine loads


The Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator has unveiled a €2.3M (US$2.7M) project, Wind Farm Control Trials (WFCT), designed to demonstrate how effective implementation of control strategies can reduce the cost of offshore wind. The project will investigate the impact of focusing on strategies that aim to improve energy generation across an entire windfarm rather than individual turbines.

The project is backed by EnBW, Eon, innogy, Statoil and Vattenfall, incorporating knowhow from experts who have played a leading role in windfarm control concept generation and wind measurement, including DTU, ECN, Frazer-Nash Consultancy and Windar Photonics.

Optimising control strategies to reduce wake effects will lower the levelised cost of energy (LCOE) by increasing the total wind energy yield and reducing fatigue, saving operational and maintenance costs. Additionally, the introduction of control strategies can also increase availability and extend the lifetime of existing and future assets.

During the project, different methods of control will be used to optimise power production for the whole windfarm rather than maximising production of individual turbines. The turbine control will be altered by adjusting the blade angle of attack (pitch) and rotation of the nacelle (yaw).

The study will be the largest and most comprehensive real-life demonstration of the impact of windfarm control strategies on the overall performance of a windfarm. It aims to build on previous simulation-based studies. 

The expected increase in energy yield and load reductions are based on simulation results, where set points (turbine input parameters) are altered and do not require any modifications to the turbine itself. This brings the enormous advantage of the control strategies being realisable on today’s windfarms. However, no solid experimental evidence has yet been publicly disclosed about the performance of windfarm control strategies in real life, and this project aims to validate these strategies and overall reduce the LCOE for the operational windfarm.

Despite the wealth of evidence showing the potential benefits of this technology, the technical and economic risks pose a significant challenge for bringing this technology to market. The WFCT project aims to act as a catalyst to demonstrate control strategies in an operational setting to enable future adoption by the wider industry. Once proven, the concept can be rolled out to operational windfarms without any need for further technology development.

Based on these previous studies and simulations undertaken, it is expected that adopting blade pitch or yaw-based control strategies would result in increase in energy yield of between 0.5% and 3.5%. It is also expected to possibly enable load reductions of up to 50% for some wind turbine components meaning increased component life and therefore reduced operation and maintenance costs.

The first stage of the project involves analysis to determine the most suitable windfarm test site for the trials and an optimisation of the control strategies. The selected windfarm will have extensive measurement equipment installed as part of the validation process for the simulations, including eight nacelle-mounted Windar Photonics light detection and ranging (lidar) systems, a scanning lidar and load measurements installed on individual turbines.

The Carbon Trust’s project manager James Sinfield said “The project has the potential to have a significant impact on cost reduction with a win-win on improving annual energy production and at the same time reducing operational and maintenance costs.”

Despite the wealth of evidence showing the potential benefits of this technology, technical and economic risks pose a challenge for bringing it to market. The OWA project has therefore been set up with the aim of demonstrating the effectiveness of control strategies in an operational setting. Once proven, the concept can be rolled out to operational offshore windfarms across the wider industry. The trials are expected to be undertaken in 2018, and full results are expected in 2019.

The project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 691732. It is also funded with subsidies from Topsector Energy by the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy.

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