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How Sideshore Technology can optimise the layout of your offshore wind farm by applying state-of-the-art algorithms

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Written by Ben de Sonneville, director of Sideshore Technology

Smarter offshore wind farm layouts will accelerate the energy transition

Wind farm layout optimisation is the art of defining the optimal locations of wind turbines, infield cables and substation structures. It presents a golden opportunity to increase project value.

The academic community has done extensive research into numerical wind farm layout optimization, however, in real projects, it is hardly ever applied. Wind farm layout optimisation is complex because it is multidisciplinary. A wind farm development is typically split into work packages (turbine, foundations, cables, substation). The location of each turbine influences the project cost across the various work packages. While wake effects are important, other aspects need to be considered as well. For example, water depth affects the foundation size. Turbulence levels need to be restricted. And cables, seabed preparation, and soil conditions are often neglected, while they too can have a substantial impact on costs. Fully optimising the turbine positions requires not only insight into wake interactions and the cost drivers across all work packages but also a way of linking everything together.

Even nowadays, wind farm layout optimisation is often still performed as a simple iterative process. First, the layout is designed by yield specialists using a simple regular grid. Subsequently, it is improved in steps, going back and forth between the various work packages. However, Sideshore Technology recently developed software where all cost drivers are schematised and interlinked in a single comprehensive and efficient simulation. This allows optimising the wind farm layout with thousands of computational iterations, achieving unprecedented gains in project value.

At Sideshore Technology, we believe data science and optimisation methods will play a key role in the transition to a more sustainable world. We bring together the worlds of offshore wind project development and high-performance numerical optimisation to create optimal wind farm layouts.

With our clients, we assess the variables driving the costs across all packages, bring them together in a single model, and optimise the wind farm layout automatically using our proprietary optimisation techniques and software tool, the Layout Doctor. Integrating all these variables is complex but allows the project value to be greatly increased. The resulting cost savings will help to accelerate the energy transition and allow a more effective use of offshore wind farm areas.

The optimisation applies parallel computing methods run on GPUs and multicore CPUs. Our cost models include wakes, foundation cost, cable cost, and seabed preparation costs. The optimisation also accounts for project boundary conditions such as minimum distances, exclusion zones, installation requirements and avoiding excessive turbulence. The resulting designs typically outperform traditional layouts with tens to hundreds of millions of Euros saved over the lifetime of a wind farm.

Are you curious how your project could benefit from our optimisations? Request a layout check.

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Note: The opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Offshore WIND.

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