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Offshore wind turbines at Barrow Offshore Wind Farm off Walney Island in the Irish Sea. (Credit: Andy Dingley http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Andy_Dingley)

Neptune, an advanced project developed at the Catalonia Institute for Energy Research (IREC), will reduce the cost of wind measurement and mitigate uncertainty about electricity production for offshore wind farms. Two new products have been already developed to enable wind measurement at sea, in order to reduce the cost of offshore wind energy.

Within the framework of the project, the floating system “eOLOS” has been developed, which uses LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology to measure wind speed and direction high above sea level. This system does not require the installation of weather towers anchored to the seabed, or floating, which cost up to 10 times more than the solution developed. The system consists of equipment based on LIDAR technology that is supported by a floating buoy and equipped with probes to measure currents and the swell of waves.

In addition, the tool “NEPTool” has been developed, which estimates wind, currents and the swell of waves in the short and medium term, through the integrated simulation of atmospheric and oceanic conditions.

These two innovations in the field of offshore wind energy contribute to reducing the cost of energy generated by offshore wind farms, by affecting the cost of site evaluation and operation of functioning farms. They also mitigate the risk of uncertainty related to a lack of prediction in the medium term regarding the wind resource and offshore conditions.

Neptune is one of the projects focused on product innovation of the European Consortium KIC InnoEnergy SE, and is led by IREC. Other participating organisations are the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC), the Research Centre for Energy, Environment and Technology (CIEMAT), the Wind Institute at the University of Stuttgart (SWE), and the companies Gas Natural Fenosa, and Environmental Maritime Engineering Solutions (SIMO).