This trial has helped accelerate the offshore wind industry’s uptake of the technology by proving across a variety of technologies and sea states, the floating LiDAR’s capability of producing highly accurate, bankable wind measurement data. 

Over the last seven years, floating LiDAR systems have evolved to be a cost-effective and accurate way of providing wind resource assessment measurements. Compared to the state-of-the-art meteorological masts (met mast), floating LiDAR systems offer many benefits including cheaper installation.

Savings of up to 90 percent are possible, based on a typical investment of €10m for a met mast. Floating LiDAR is also quicker; both through the planning process (months rather than years) and deployment to the measurement campaign site (hours rather than days).

Prior to these trials, the main barrier to wider deployment of floating LiDAR was a lack of validated data showing that these solutions could offer the levels of accuracy required by offshore wind project financiers at a fraction of the cost and deployment time.

Partners from the Carbon Trust’s flagship industry collaborative R&D programme, the Offshore Wind Accelerator funded the validation project in order to bring confidence to the market on the ability of the technology to deliver commercial grade wind speed and direction measurements.

During the four year trial a range of floating LiDAR devices were deployed alongside existing offshore met-masts to enable the comparison of wind speed and direction measurements. Over the course of the campaign five systems were tested at six different sites across Europe:

Babcock at Gwynt y Mor;

FLiDAR at Gwynt y Mor, Narec (now ORE Catapult Blyth), and Neart na Gaoithe;

EOLOS FLS200 at IJmuiden Met Mast;

Fugro Oceanor Seawatch Floating LiDAR at East Anglia ONE; and

Fraunhofer IWES Wind LiDAR Buoy at FINO1 Met Mast.

Following the trials, many of the devices tested are now being deployed by offshore wind farm developers in commercial campaigns, reducing the need for traditional offshore met-masts which will lower pre-development and development costs significantly.

In addition to direct cost reduction, the validation trials also provided valuable hands-on operational experience of the devices for developers and floating LiDAR suppliers to streamline operations and maintenance activities, including improved HSE.

Richard Khaira-Creswell, Senior Measurement Engineer at DONG Energy stated “The Carbon Trust's floating LiDAR trials have been highly valuable to us in DONG Energy. The framework, established by the Carbon Trust, has enabled the development of floating LiDAR concepts – in terms of technical performance, as well as practical issues of safety and reliability. This work has made significant progress towards a mature and robust technology which is accepted across the industry, and will lead directly to reduce the cost of energy.”

Michael Stephenson, Project Manager of OWA Wakes and Wind Resource research at the Carbon Trust added “This project is a further testament to the collaborative approach taken by the offshore wind industry to reduce costs. By supporting floating LiDAR manufacturers in this way, the industry benefits by reducing the risk associated with new innovations as well as gaining hands-on experience of how this technology works.”

Through the process of the trials the systems were validated against the Carbon Trust OWA roadmap for commercial acceptance of floating LiDAR technology, which is now the accepted industry standard for commercialisation of systems.  To help developers effectively deploy floating LiDAR systems the Carbon Trust also released the OWA Floating LiDAR Recommended Practice last year.  

The Carbon Trust will be presenting lessons learned from the trials at the Offshore Wind Energy 2017 conference in London. The conference is taking place at the Excel Centre from 6-8 June and is jointly organised by RenewableUK and WindEurope.