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Met-ocean buoy with LiDAR

Public summary 

The objective of the project was to demonstrate that cost-efficient floating LiDAR technology is a viable alternative to fixed offshore metmasts. The ultimate objective of floating LiDAR technology – though not of this project – is to make expensive offshore metmasts obsolete for wind resource assessments. In order to achieve this, the measurement data recorded by floating LiDAR systems has to be accepted as “bankable” by financial institutions and their advisors. Providers of debt and equity finance for the construction of offshore wind farms need to have sufficient confidence in floating LiDAR technology which has had only a very limited track record at the onset of the project. The project partners made an attempt to contribute to the body of experience by allowing up to three suppliers of met-ocean buoys to demonstrate their products in a harsh environment that is
representative for far-shore wind farm sites. Another objective was to gather hands-on experience with this new technology. The project partners sought to learn as many practical lessons as possible throughout all stages of the project including engineering, manufacturing, transportation and marine operations.

Approach and results obtained
Two buoy-mounted LiDAR systems from different suppliers were tested and their measurement data was validated by an independent data analyst. An IEC-compliant offshore metmast was used to obtain reference measurement data to validate against. The criteria of the validation referred to availability and accuracy (in terms of wind speed and wind direction). A cumulative total of six months of measurement data was collected in each trial at the IJmuiden metmast site. The guideline for the evaluation was the Carbon Trust’s roadmap for the commercial acceptance of floating LiDAR technology. The first trial was with the SEAWATCH Wind Lidar buoy of Fugro OCEANOR from Norway in 2014. This met-ocean buoy was also subjected to an endurance test at the offshore construction site of the Luchterduinen wind farm. The second trial was with the FLS200 of EOLOS Floating LiDAR Solutions from Spain in 2015. Both floating LiDAR systems have successfully fulfilled the acceptance criteria for stage 2 (pre-commercial) of the Carbon Trust’s roadmap. However, a formal confirmation by ECN about the full compliance of the FLS200 with the roadmap’s acceptance criteria is pending.

Contribution to the FLOW targets
Floating LiDAR systems are substantially less expensive than fixed offshore metmasts in terms of total cost of ownership. Even when looking at capital expenditure alone, the cost savings per unit are estimated to amount to approx. 5 million EUR as the lower end of the pricing scale for floating LiDAR systems is below 1 million EUR. Admittedly, a fully equipped, state-of-the-art offshore metmast has more capabilities and a higher utility value than any met-ocean buoy. It has to be kept in mind though that floating LiDAR systems are mobile and can potentially replace multiple metmasts over time. Therefore the cost savings of 5 million EUR in terms of capital expenditure are a very conservative estimate. The trials have allowed Fugro OCEANOR and EOLOS to introduce their met-ocean buoys to the market on a commercial basis. This has resulted in increased competition on the floating LiDAR market. More competition is expected to result in lower prices, thus lowering the cost of offshore wind energy.



Article RWE Innogy

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