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Site Characterisation Studies set the stage for offshore wind energy expansion

4C Offshore | Kaitlin Walsh
By: Kaitlin Walsh 18/05/2023 RVO

The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) has set sail on an endeavour with the commissioning of multiple research vessels for site characterisation studies in the North Sea.

Four research vessels will simultaneously conduct soil investigations in a single week, marking a historic milestone for the industry. In parallel, five measurement campaigns dedicated to wind and water research are set to commence, reaffirming the nation's commitment to sustainable energy solutions.

Harnessing the power of data derived from comprehensive soil, wind, and water studies, wind farm developers are poised to optimize their plans and designs for offshore wind farms. As the Dutch Government has taken on the crucial responsibility of site investigations, a significant improvement in data quality has been achieved. Consequently, the cost of offshore wind has experienced a substantial reduction over the years.

Since 2015, RVO has spearheaded site characterisation studies for planned wind farms, resulting in the successful construction of several offshore wind farms. As the country elevates its targets for offshore wind, the momentum continues to build, with numerous projects slated for the coming years.

By 2030/2031, the Netherlands aims to establish an impressive 21 GW of operating offshore wind energy capacity. As a result, the need for a greater number of studies becomes paramount, enabling the timely delivery of results essential for the issuance of permits.

Beginning in May 2023, a fleet of four Fugro ships will venture into the vast expanse of the North Sea on behalf of RVO. These vessels will conduct meticulous research into the conditions and composition of the ocean floor. Initial shallow soil samples will be acquired by these ships, followed by the retrieval of deeper samples using a specialized vessel. Penetrating depths of up to 60 metres, these ships will meticulously map the subsoil, empowering developers to plan wind turbine foundations and the intricate network of cables required for their installation.

Simultaneously, GEOxyz and RPS, utilizing technologies such as floating lasers (LiDARs) to determine wind speeds, will pioneer wind and water studies, positioning RVO and the Netherlands at the forefront of innovation on an international scale.

In the forthcoming period, GEOxyz and RPS will undertake five extensive measurement campaigns, deploying two measurement buoys in the North Sea for each campaign. These buoys will measure wind speeds within the designated areas and meticulously investigate the interplay and impact of multiple wind farms.

Each of these campaigns will span two years per wind energy area, providing invaluable insights into optimizing energy yield and enhancing wind farm design and construction plans.

By accurately calculating energy yield through wind and water measurements and refining wind farm designs and construction plans through soil investigations and wave current analyses, the Netherlands is driving the efficient construction of offshore wind farms. In doing so, the nation not only contributes significantly to the global sustainability landscape but also actively pursues the attainment of climate objectives.

The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) and its partners, Fugro, GEOxyz, and RPS, are steadfast in their commitment to realizing a future powered by renewable energy. These ground breaking site characterisation studies represent a monumental leap forward in offshore wind energy, forging a path towards a more sustainable Netherlands.


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