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Floating LIDAR buoy

RWE Innogy and Carbon Trust’s OWA to test innovative wind measurement buoys

20 September 2012

RWE Innogy, together with the Carbon Trust's Offshore Wind Accelerator programme, is to trial new methods of collecting wind speed data at the site of one of Europe's largest offshore wind farms.

RWE Innogy, together with the Carbon Trust's Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) programme, is to trial new methods of collecting wind speed data at the site of Gwynt y Môr, one of Europe's largest offshore wind farms.

Two Light Detection and Ranging units (LIDAR) will be mounted on buoys and be temporarily installed ten miles off the north Wales coast, close to the existing meteorological  mast of Gwynt y Môr offshore wind farm. Both units will collect wind data which can then be compared with information from the met mast and used to build confidence in this new technology in future wind farm developments. The trials are part of the OWA programme, promoted and coordinated by the Carbon Trust with the aim of reducing the cost of offshore wind power by 10% by 2015. First results are expected to be available in 2013.


If the trials are successful, floating LiDAR systems could replace fixed met masts to measure the wind resource. The 100m tall fixed met masts typically cost several million pounds to fabricate and install, and can take as long as a year to get into the water, often as far as 100km offshore at depths greater than 30m. Floating LiDARs should be much quicker to deploy and cheaper to install. It should also be possible to move the floating LiDAR systems around the site, giving the developers a more accurate picture of the resource across the large Round 3 zones, reducing the uncertainty about how much electricity can be generated and reducing financing costs.


The two models being trialled, one manufactured by the Belgian company "FLiDAR", the other by the British producer "Babcock International Group", differ particularly in terms of design. The prototype developed by FLiDAR floats on the waves and is undergoing a trial for wave motion compensation. This prototype has already been successfully used in the Belgian North Sea for accurate wind data collection. The measuring buoy from Babcock is currently under construction and is characterised by its low motion buoy design.


Both prototypes will be towed by ship to the chosen measuring site where they are anchored to the seabed. Electricity will be supplied by photovoltaic panels and micro-wind turbines installed on the buoy. Like a conventional met mast, the buoys will supply weather data on wind velocities and wind direction. These trial laser-based measuring systems will be used to record wind velocity and wind direction both horizontally and vertically up to a height of 200 metres.


COO at RWE Innogy, Paul Coffey, said: "The need for research in the field of offshore wind power continues to be immense. The construction of measuring stations is an important step towards recording and analysing local wind conditions. The data is of fundamental significance for the development, construction and operation of offshore wind power plants. It is for this reason that we support the testing of these measuring buoys."


The trials were initiated by the Carbon Trust's Offshore Wind Accelerator programme which involves RWE Innogy as well as seven other offshore wind developers: DONG Energy, E.ON, Mainstream, ScottishPower Renewables, SSE, Statkraft and Statoil.

For further information please contact the Carbon Trust press office on 020 7170 7050 or email press@carbontrust.com.

About the Carbon Trust

The Carbon Trust is an independent company with a mission to accelerate the move to a sustainable, low-carbon economy. The Carbon Trust:

  • advises businesses, governments and the public sector on opportunities in a sustainable, low-carbon world;
  • measures and certifies the environmental footprint of organisations, products and services;
  • helps develop and deploy low-carbon technologies and solutions, from energy efficiency to renewable power
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