Brussels, 06 March 2002
The technology for the construction and operation of offshore wind farms is ready for large-scale application, according to a Commission-funded project which examined ways of making the technology more cost effective and environment friendly.
The Concerted Action on Offshore wind energy in Europe (CA-OWEE) project, which involved participants from 13 European countries, was funded under the 'Energy, environment and sustainable development' priority of the EU's Fifth Framework programme for research. It aimed to boost the role of offshore wind energy as a key source of renewable energy for Europe by gathering information about the current state of offshore wind technology and research in Europe and appraising existing knowledge on its effect on wildlife and the environment.
Project coordinator Andrew Henderson, assistant professor for offshore wind energy at Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands, said the project had identified a number of areas where further research is needed. These include technological and environmental aspects such as research on the effect of wind farms on radar, and the aeroelastic and structural design of offshore wind turbine rotor blades, which are much larger than those of land-based turbines.
Mr Henderson added that he thinks the project is an important step in the development of offshore wind technology in Europe, which he said will help 'as many people benefit from this technology as possible' by raising awareness and disseminating information.
Mr Henderson added that cooperation between different European countries during the project was key to its success by allowing access to a large amount of research, and that this European dimension will be 'vital' to continued research in the field.
Europe's largest offshore wind turbine park is based at Middelgrun off the coast of Copenhagen in Denmark, with a capacity of 40 megawatts. Experts predict that by the end of the decade, European offshore wind parks with a total capacity of thousands of megawatts - enough to supply power to millions of homes - will be in operation. Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK, and Ireland all have advanced plans to build wind turbine parks on their shores.
The CA-OWEE project lasted two years, finishing at the end of 2001.
A final report on the CA-OWEE project is available at the following web address: http://www.offshorewindenergy.org