The energy crisis has demonstrated the importance of securing the Norwegian and European energy supply. Wind power is an important solution that provides both access to energy and progress towards climate targets. Offshore wind especially has potential, since wind resources at sea are more significant than on land.
NorthWind is established as a solid wind power research centre. The centre's activities follow the work plan, which consists of research and innovation with an aim to cut costs, ensure a sustainable development, create jobs and increase exports from the Norwegian supply industry. The Centre addresses both wind power onshore and offshore, with an emphasis on offshore wind.
Research challenges NorthWind is solving:
• Structure and integrity: How do we ensure large-scale production at the best possible price?
• Marine operations and logistics: How do we best carry out the necessary marine operations during both building and operation?
• Electrical infrastructure and system integration: How do we integrate large quantities of wind power into the energy system without creating problems?
• Digital twin and asset management: How can we best use new technology to reduce maintenance costs?
• Sustainable wind development: How can we reduce wind power's effects on nature and people?
Norway's offshore wind ambitions have increased markedly since NorthWind was launched in 2021. The country's target of 30 GW offshore wind corresponds to a doubling of the power system, with investments totalling 1000 billion NOK in the coming 2-3 decades. This will give Norway access to large amounts of emissions-free energy at a relatively low cost, progress towards climate targets and significant value creation. But research challenges must be solved. While these are addressed at NorthWind, reaching Norway's newly strengthened ambitions will require significantly bolstering efforts in education, research and innovation.
NorthWind is in demand and growing. Kongsberg Digital, Hydro and Oceaneering joined as industry partners in 2022. World Wide Wind joined as a network partner. In total, the Centre has 50 industry and network partners.
In 2022, we structured our work with innovations, and the interplay between research and industry. We identified 30 innovations, classified according to their Technology Readiness Level (TRL). The innovations are within fields which are important for Norway's offshore wind efforts, and where we have leading industry partners who can put them to use. This includes offshore wind foundations, marine operations, electrical infrastructure, digital solutions for monitoring and control, and sustainable development. At the start of the year, most of the innovations were at TRL 2 (concept formulated). They are now mostly all at TRL 3 (experimental proof of concept) or 4 (validated in lab). As they develop, the innovations will be adopted as user cases, where industry meets research, or spin-off projects, led by one or several industry partners. So far, the Centre started work on 12 user cases, developing new knowledge and technology to a level where industry can put it to use. The Centre also helped launching 8 spin-off projects and 2 EU projects.
NorthWind's first 12 PhD candidates have been hired. In total, the Centre plans to finance 27 PhD candidates by 2029. In 2022, at NTNU, 83 students have completed a master's thesis about wind power/offshore wind. These students constitute an important recruiting pool for industry players in need of a highly qualified workforce.
NorthWind works actively with the dissemination of research results. The annual EERA DeepWind conference is a main event. It was held in January 2022, online because of the pandemic, with 150 scientific presentations from all around the world. In 2023, it will be held in person in Trondheim on 18-20 January. In June, a delegation from NorthWind and the Research Council visited the Hywind Tampen floating wind turbine assembly site at Gulen. During the summer, the Centre contributed to the document "The North Sea as a Solution to the Climate and Energy Crises", presented at Arendalsuka. In 2022, NorthWind organised or supported 22 webinars/seminars about relevant topics (as of 30/11). The website northwindresearch.no gives an overview of the Centre's activities and is used extensively to communicate results and updates.
NorthWind participates in the Offshore wind forum (havvindforum), led by the Minister of Petroleum and Energy, where the major players join discussions and provide advice and opinions about the Norwegian offshore wind efforts. The Centre collaborates with several organisations, including NORWEP for export strategy, Offshore Norge about co-use and fisheries, Norwegian Offshore Wind and the Sustainable Energy Norwegian Catapult Centre about the offshore wind test centre and the development of EU projects. Renergy, Energi Norge, NORWEA and Wind Cluster Norway are also cooperation partners.
FME NorthWind, the Norwegian Research Centre on Wind Energy, will progress outstanding research and innovation to facilitate the sustainable development of wind power with respect for nature both on land and offshore. Such development will support the creation of thousands of new green jobs in the Norwegian service and supply industry and spearhead substantial export growth for Norway, particularly for offshore wind development.
Focus areas for NorthWind include:
- Turbines and support structures, including floating platforms
- Marine operations and logistics for offshore wind farms
- Electrical systems infrastructure and power grid integration
- Digital twin technology for improved asset management
- The development of a sustainable wind power industry
NorthWind will lay a solid technological foundation to unlock the future market potential through outstanding research to lower the risk and cost of wind farms and through the development of a large number of innovations for widespread implementation. Published scientific results will provide developers and operators with tools and knowledge to optimise the design and operation of wind farms, including the development of cost competitive floating wind farms by 2030, helping to make the necessary green energy transition a reality.
On top of the research results, NorthWind will serve as a knowledge-based platform for the much-needed public engagement, informed debate and policy development on wind energy in Norway and beyond. Digital tools will be used where possible to maximize reach and participation in these processes.
The NorthWind consortium involves several key actors for wind power research and development, including SINTEF, NTNU, UiO, NGI and NINA, all with experience in FME-level research centres and strong competence on wind energy research. In addition, more than 35 industrial partners that cover the full supply chain from planning to deployment will ensure the highest relevance to industry requirements.