Written by Ben de Sonneville, Director of Sideshore Technology
Smarter offshore wind farm developments will accelerate the energy transition
Optimizing the layout of wind farms is the art of defining the optimum locations for wind turbines, field cables and substation structures. It presents a golden opportunity to increase the value of the project.
The academic community has done extensive research on the numerical optimization of wind farm layouts, however, in real projects it is hardly ever applied. Optimizing the location of a wind farm is complex because it is multidisciplinary. A wind farm development is usually divided into work packages (turbine, foundations, cables, substation). The location of each wind turbine influences the cost of the project in the different work packages. Although wake effects are important, other aspects must also be taken into account. For example, water depth affects the size of foundations. Turbulence levels should be limited. And cables, seabed preparation and ground conditions are often overlooked, when they too can have a substantial impact on costs. Complete optimization of turbine positions not only requires insight into wake interactions and cost factors across all work packages, but also a way to tie everything together.
Even today, wind farm layout optimization is often still carried out as a simple iterative process. First, the layout is designed by performance specialists using a simple regular grid. Thereafter, it is improved in stages, going back and forth between the different work packages. However, Sideshore Technology has recently developed software where all cost factors are mapped and interconnected in one complete and efficient simulation. This allows the layout of the wind farm to be optimized with thousands of calculation iterations, realizing unprecedented gains in project value.
At Sideshore Technology, we believe that data science and optimization methods will play a key role in the transition to a more sustainable world. We bring together the worlds of offshore wind project development and high performance numerical optimization to create optimal wind farm configurations.
Together with our clients, we evaluate the variables that drive the costs of all packages, bring them together in a single model, and automatically optimize the wind farm layout using our proprietary optimization techniques and software tool, the Layout Doctor. The integration of all these variables is complex but can greatly increase the value of the project. The resulting cost savings will help accelerate the energy transition and enable more efficient use of offshore wind farm areas.
Optimization applies parallel computing methods running on multi-core GPUs and CPUs. Our cost models include wakes, foundation cost, cable cost and seabed preparation costs. The optimization also takes into account project boundary conditions such as minimum distances, exclusion zones, installation requirements and avoidance of excessive turbulence. The resulting designs typically outperform traditional configurations with tens to hundreds of millions of dollars saved over the lifetime of a wind farm.
Are you curious to know how your project could benefit from our optimizations? Ask for a layout check.
Note: The opinions, beliefs and views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Offshore WIND.