Wind, both on- and offshore, and solar installations are expected to be the main drivers towards clean energy generations to attain net zero emissions by 2050. Onshore wind and photovoltaic solar are commonly considered as proven, mature technologies with extensive global supply chains. When we however decide to go on sea, things may change quite a bit. Despite the higher energy generation potential due to stronger winds at sea, the offshore wind energy sector is struggling to get fully lift off across Europe. In this interview dr. Nezmin Kayedpour sheds her light on the work done in the recently finished BEOWIND-project, which provides the tools to enhance the business case for offshore wind parks.
Let's chat with EnerGhentIC colleague Nezmin Kayedpour at the department of Electromechanical, Systems and Metal Energineering, Faculty of Engineering & Architecture, Ghent University, who recently obtained her PhD in offshore wind and was a key researcher in the BEOWIND project.
BElgian Offshore WIND energy parks: tools to enhance the provision of ancillary services, the stability of the grid and the lifetime of the infrastructure
01/10/2018 - 30/09/2023
FOD Economie/FPS Economy
Involved UGent professors
Prof. Guillaume Crevecoeur, Prof. Jeroen De Kooning, Prof. Lieven Vandevelde
Good afternoon, Nezmin! First of all, congratulations on obtaining your PhD in offshore wind energy. The first offshore wind park in Belgium is already operational since 2009. Why is there still a need for research projects like BEOWIND?
“Even though some of the Belgian wind parks are already providing clean energy since quite some time, there is still a vast amount of challenges to be tackled. First of all, the production of existing and new wind parks should be optimized to ensure the cost competitiveness of the technology for both park developers and end users like you and I. Wind parks may suffer from lower production capacity due to so called wakes. These wakes are zones where the wind is disturbed due to the presence of obstacles, like other rotating wind turbines in the park. If nothing is done, this will inevitably lead to suboptimal energy generation. With more farms being built, park owners already experience wake interactions between different farms as well. In addition to this, the overall production of wind parks may also be influenced due to their integration in the power grid. During periods with high wind and lot of sunshine, and hence an excess of renewable energy, production by wind energy is capped as to make sure that the power grid remains stable.”
How did BEOWIND contribute to solving these challenges?
“One of the main focus points of BEOWIND is exactly the grid integration of wind energy in a power system with increased penetration of renewables. It is the responsibility of the Transmission System Operator (TSO), Elia in Belgium, to ensure proper operation of the grid at all times. This means that the grid should be balanced, production should match consumption and storage, and also be stable, providing power at the necessary 50Hz with very limited deviations. In BEOWIND, we developed advanced control systems to actively use wind turbines as assets for stable grid operation. By controlling the position of the blades, wind turbines may alter production in 3-10s to match requirements imposed by the TSO. In this respect, the previously mentioned wakes also come into play. The magnitude of wakes and associated disturbance is directly correlated to the production of the wind turbine causing the wake. As part of the work on grid integration, we developed tools to decide on the best distribution of energy production from turbine to turbine leading to a minimization of the overall wake effects.”
Research overview poster
So this means that these tools are really necessary to allow for a full transition towards clean energy? If it’s so important, why is this not yet fully implemented?
“Reducing the production of wind turbines to balance the power system is already part of day-to-day operation. On the other side, actively participating in markets for grid stability is still less common. There needs to be a clear business case for this. With the market becoming more competitive and renumeration for this kind of services growing over time, a sustainable business case is steadily growing. At the same time, such dynamic adaptations may lead to heavier structural loads on the wind turbine and its components, which may lead to shorter lifetimes. These considerations are included in the developed tools. Eventually we proved for a reference case that it is both technically possible and financially attractive to use the wind farm as asset in the balancing and stability markets.”
"Participating in markets for grid stability is still less common. There needs to be a clear business case for this. With the market becoming more competitive and remuneration for this kind of services growing over time, a sustainable business case is steadily growing."
Apparently quite a lot of different engineering disciplines had to come together to achieve the results?
“Yes, indeed. This is something I’m personally very happy about. The different researchers from Ghent University (Narender Singh and myself) and University of Mons (Seyyed Ahmad Hosseini) tackled a multitude of aspects of wind farm operation. In the University of Mons, they worked on weather prediction, whereas in Ghent University we brought in expertise from the sides of control engineering, mechanics and economics. We especially focused on the integration of data-driven techniques in proven control techniques for wind farms.”
Where does the data you mention come from?
“In the scope of BEOWIND we mostly used simulation data for the wind farm of C-power, owning the first-ever Belgian wind farm, as modelled Belgian reference case. As you may know, data is quite valuable these days, so it’s hard to get real operational data from wind park owners. I’m however very happy that in the scope of the recently granted European project ICONIC we will work closely together with C-power and BP. These parties will share real data and we will even be able to do offshore experiments on the farm of C-power. This is quite a unique opportunity!"
C-power location in the North Sea (left) & modelled wind farm lay-out with indication of wakes (right)
How will this EU project ICONIC exactly relate to the work done in BEOWIND?
“It will be a natural follow-up of our previous work and will also be coordinated by Ghent University. Due to close collaboration with international experts across Europe, we will be able to open new perspectives on the use of digital twins, reinforcement learning for control and a lot of other exciting stuff! It will also be nice to have a closer look at how we can integrate the different modules into an operational package. Different important industrial stakeholders are actively contributing to the project, including amongst others C-power and BP as wind park owners, ZF for the gearbox and SKF for bearings. These are also some of the parties that, after co-development, may use parts of the results.”
Interesting to hear that there are already activities being started to take the results further. It seems that you and your colleagues won’t be bored during the upcoming years!
In case this research triggered your interest, you can find more in-depth information in the scientific publications of Nezmin: https://biblio.ugent.be/person/714DB5CE-BAC7-11E8-A22B-3DF65607D3EF
Or find out more about the BEOWIND project here: https://epes.ugent.be/research/BEOWIND