In 2011, more than nine new wind farms entered into production in the North Sea alone. ECN developed FARMFLOW, an instrument for designing wind farms: establishing the best orientation with regard to the common wind direction, the right distance between the turbines, et cetera.

Take a look at this report on farm flow.

Testing of wind turbine prototypes delivers valuable data that can be used to improve the design. ECN wants to expand its wind turbine test site in the Wieringermeer. The Innovation contract Offshore Wind, co-signed by ECN, contains plans for a pilot project at sea.

View the innovation contract Offshore Wind. ECN co-signed this contract.

When an offshore wind turbine is out of operation due to malfunctioning, this is very costly. The wind energy supply halt and a visit by ship is expensive. These O&M costs can be significantly lowered thanks to smart software developed by ECN: sensors that can monitor the turbines from a distance and programmes for condition based maintenance.

Read a report on optimising maintenance strategies.

Investors can limit their risk through reliable predictions of wind and wave conditions at a certain location at sea. ECN installed a network of measuring points in the North Sea. De first data are currently being collected and stored. Soon, all measuring data will be made public through a website.

Watch a clip of a newscast on the installing of a wind measuring mast at sea and read the explanation provided by Tom Obdam.

In 2011, FLOW (Far and Large Offshore Wind) was started: a joint R&D programme of Dutch energy companies, offshore businesses, wind turbine manufacturers and research institutes. ECN is co-founder of this programme and is currently involved in ten projects in the fields of optimal deployment of offshore electricity grids and tools for control engineering and aero-elastic design of wind turbines.

Take a look at the FLOW website.

The Knowledge Centre WMC (Wind turbine Materials and Constructions) evolved from a collaboration between ECN and Delft University of Technology. It has meanwhile become an independent Foundation of ECN. International businesses bring large constructions such as rotor blades for wind turbines to WMC to have them tested for strength. Materials characteristics are also determined here and software is developed for the design of wind turbines.

Visit the website of WMC.

The Dutch Cabinet announced that they consider wind energy to be too expensive at the moment. Nevertheless, they are keeping the door ajar for new investments. ECN is frequently asked for advice:

How quickly will these costs lower?
What are the best locations for wind farms?
What is the role of wind energy in the long term?