What price offshore

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Although four offshore wind farms are now operational and yielding valuable data on performance, economic analysis remains difficult: they have all been built in relatively shallow or sheltered waters and each is a "first of a kind." Two Joule III projects, however, are now looking at the factors which influence energy production cost from offshore wind farms.

SK Power Company is investigating the technical and economic possibilities of a large wind farm of 200-500 MW in the Danish waters of the Baltic Sea. And a project lead by the Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands is examining structural and economic optimisation of bottom mounted wind energy converters.

Both projects are looking at alternative layouts, foundation designs, different methods of grid connection, including AC or DC electrical transmission and are also making detailed assessments of operational and maintenance costs. The project lead by SK Power has identified potential sites and 48 metre measuring masts have been installed in the areas concerned. The other study is wider ranging, but both aim to estimate electricity production costs as a function of a number of variables including distance from the shore, depth of water and machine numbers.

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