In the near future, the Netherlands will be building various medium-sized and large wind farms in the Dutch part of the North Sea. A major challenge in offshore wind farms is the technical connection of this energy production to the electricity grid on shore. Another important objective is to make production and transport cheaper.
Transport costs can be reduced by, among other things, using innovative interconnectors. This is heavy electrical infrastructure between different countries, which means that the energy generated in one country can be transported by sea to another country. International transport over different electricity networks in several countries is limited, but necessary if more and more wind farms are to be included in the energy system. A direct connection between, for example, the Netherlands and England via an overseas interconnector offers a solution.
There are several advantages. In this way, an electricity company can decide to sell the electricity to the country where it is most profitable at the time. Congestion can also be prevented. If too much electricity has been generated for one country, it can easily be transported to another country where there is still a need. An innovation is to connect wind farms directly to these interconnectors, so that the electricity can be routed in both directions. Grid operators such as Ten Grid, as well as the electricity companies such as NUON, Eneco and Shell, benefit a great deal from such innovations.
The researchers of ECN part of TNO are also working on cost reduction in the production of wind energy through different types of technical innovations and the smart combination of technologies. The potential of wind energy can be better exploited through economies of scale. In pilot projects they investigate the best layout for a wind farm, so that the best cost is achieved. They do this by bringing different disciplines together. Active Wake Control is an example of this.
In Active Wake Control, the production of the wind turbines in a wind farm is finely tuned to each other. Usually this is done by having wind turbines run at the front of the wind farm at a lower production level, so that there is more wind at the back of the wind farm. As a result, despite the lower production of the first wind turbines, the total yield is higher.
Behind the wind turbines, the wind speed is lower. The aim is to keep these so-called wake losses to a minimum. This can be done by actively regulating all the individual wind turbines in a park, depending on the wind direction and wind speed. Especially in medium-sized wind parks (50 turbines) and large wind parks (of 150 wind turbines or more) there is so much to be gained.