The study, which is a part of the Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) programme, is evaluating the risks within the installation and burial of power cables at the offshore wind farms in the UK.
Launched by the Carbon Trust and nine offshore wind developers in 2008, the OWA programme was designed to study the ways of reducing costs of generating electricity from offshore wind farms in the UK waters by at least 10% by 2015.
The nine offshore wind developers include DONG Energy, E.ON, Mainstream Renewable Power, RWE Innogy, ScottishPower Renewables, SSE Renewables, Statkraft, Statoil and Vattenfall.
OWA members have identified and prioritised the technology challenges based on the likely savings and the potential for the OWA in order to influence the outcomes. Through the development of the round one and two wind farms, they found that a disproportionate amount of risk was due to the installation and burial of the power cables.
Currently, the consortium is working to look at the current survey methodologies and specifications to review whether they are suitable. It will also review the equipment presently used in the offshore wind industry for cable installation and whether the equipment is appropriately specified and fit for purpose.
Approaches to mitigating risk to the cable are also being looked at through the use of the Burial Protection Index. The consortium will develop a more comprehensive methodology in line with new technology and meeting the demanding requirements of wind farm operators and insurers.
A benchmark wind farm, which includes the key risks identified in the Round 3 wind farms, is being used throughout the project to conduct a cost benefit analysis for confirming the likely reduction in risk profile and potential cost savings offered by the proposals.
Work on the project was initiated in November 2013 and is expected to be completed in June 2014. Findings of the project will be communicated to the industry as a whole at key renewable energy conferences.
Xodus low carbon global director James Hunt said the consortium has a wealth of experience across the offshore wind and oil and gas sectors, applying industry best practice in the assessment of survey information, assessing cable risk and specifying appropriate equipment in order to reduce the risks for installed offshore infrastructure.
"In addition to this, we will use our in-house developed value, decision and risk management tools to ensure that all risks and opportunities for mitigation are effectively captured and legislated for in the cost-benefit analysis," Hunt said.