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The University of Southampton

Project to develop new model for minimising energy loss in offshore wind farms

Published: 5 November 2020
Wind turbines
Flightform and Southampton are working to optimise the turbine layout of offshore windfarms.

The University of Southampton will team with London-based Flightform Insights to develop a novel wake and wind generation model to minimise energy losses from offshore wind farms.

The collaboration, made possible through the national SPRINT business support programme, is aimed at helping offshore wind developers optimise the turbine layout of their windfarms by minimising the losses caused by the influence of the turbine wake on the water surface.

Flightform Insights will leverage the University of Southampton’s world-class expertise in fluid dynamics applied to renewable energy to focus on the observation of real-life wakes - the ‘wind shadows’ cast by wind turbines - that reduce the wind speed and alter the wind flow characteristics for adjacent turbines down-wind.

Experts from Flightform and the University will use a combination of earth observation satellite images of European offshore wind farms and existing theoretical models to observe wakes on the water surface in offshore wind farms. This will deliver an innovative and competitive wind generation model to predict the energy output and estimated energy losses from any configuration of wind turbines.

The project is funded by a grant from the £4.8 million SPRINT (SPace Research and Innovation Network for Technology) programme that provides unprecedented access to university space expertise and facilities. SPRINT helps businesses through the commercial exploitation of space data and technologies.

Tatiana Suarez, Founder at Flightform Insights said: “This particular project is looking at the best layout of wind farms to minimise energy loss for developers and operators.

“We heard about SPRINT at an accelerator event and the University of Southampton expertise is very applicable for this project. Although we have a product in the pipeline, we need additional resources and capability to help us get to the first stage design of a commercial model and that is what SPRINT will help deliver.”

Stephen Turnock, Professor of Maritime Fluid Dynamics and Head of the Department of Civil, Maritime and Environmental Engineering at the University of Southampton added: “Our expertise covers maritime engineering and renewable energy, and the team at Flightform were looking for specific expertise in joining up the data to confidently predict the performance of wind turbine arrays.

“The SPRINT project is a unique opportunity to do this at scale, with a range of sites and a long timescale. It will be interesting to understand how turbines perform in arrays and use the data to effectively operate wind turbines. This cutting-edge industry perspective is useful for us to apply to teaching and research, and will extend our experience of working in commercial environments.”


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