Colossal wind measuring mast at sea

In the future, entrepreneurs will be able to limit their risks in offshore wind energy. As a result, they will need less subsidy. The reason: a measuring network in the North Sea that predicts how much wind energy can be ‘reaped’ and how the turbines need to be strengthened to be able to resist the lashing waves.

Source: NOS newscast of 26 October 2011


Convincing story
'Businesses that are going to build wind farms at sea have a convincing story for their financers if they can show them the expected yield of wind energy. Investors will be facing lower risks and be able to offer loans under favourable conditions. Moreover, if entrepreneurs have knowledge of the height of the waves at certain locations, from which side they come and how forceful they are, this will enable them to adjust the design of their wind turbines accordingly. The turbines need to be sufficiently solid, but not too solid at costs that are needlessly high. The Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation hopes that this will bring benefits to entrepreneurs in wind energy and lower their dependence on subsidy. Eventually, this will lead to a saving for the ministry.

New measuring points

The ministry asked ECN to design a measuring programme in collaboration with the German energy company RWE, which maps the expected wind and wave supply for future locations of offshore wind farms. The wind measuring mast is part of this measuring programme. A new type of measuring instrument has been placed off the coast near Hoek van Holland: a so-called Lidar. This apparatus emits laser beams, which are reflected by particles in the air, allowing the wind force to be measured up to great heights. Measuring equipment at the bottom of the sea yields information on the wave action.

The data of these new measuring points will be combined with data from existing stations. In four years’ time, ECN is hoping to produce a reliable prediction that entrepreneurs can take with them to the bank.'