The objective of FME NorthWind (Norwegian Research Centre on Wind Energy) is research and innovation to reduce the cost of wind energy, facilitate its sustainable development, create jobs and grow exports. The Centre started in June 2021 and will continue for 8 years co-financed by the Research Council of Norway, research- and industry partners. The research and innovation are carried out by the research partners SINTEF, NTNU, UiO, NGI and NINA in collaboration with the industry partners of the Centre counting 29 full partners and 15 network partners. These represent the full value chain of the Norwegian wind industry, including developers and energy companies, supply industry and service companies. The interest shown by the industry partners is very strong, especially related to opportunities within offshore wind energy development.
The research in NorthWind is organized in five work packages (WPs), namely 1) structures and integrity, 2) marine operations and logistics, 3) electrical infrastructure and system integration, 4) digital twin and asset management, and 5) sustainable wind development. The research activities have started in all the WPs and the industry is being engaged in case studies. These are carried out across the WPs to enhance collaboration and innovation.
The academic activities in NorthWind are also in good progress. This is facilitated by the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) that is established between the research partners of NorthWind and the associate research partners DTU, Fraunhofer, TNO, University of Strathclyde, NREL, NCEPU and Florence School of Regulation. In SAC open results will be shared and plans and progress will be monitored to ensure the research to be at the international forefront. SAC also has the responsibility for the PhD-programme of NorthWind and already the first 11 PhD students are hired.
An important goal for NorthWind is to provide a platform for knowledge-based debate and policy on wind energy. This requires a continuous effort which is already well underway through the work in the WPs and through communication. The NorthWind web, www.northwindresearch.no, gives up-to-date open information about the Centre. Communication with partners and stakeholders are prioritized. This has been carried out through a series of meetings within the Centre (kick-off, general assembly, board, etc), specific meetings on WP-level, but also through arrangements of open webinars, media contributions and dialogue with partners outside the Centre. NorthWind has in 2021 already more than twenty publications with information on the Centre and popular science on wind energy.
The Technology Transfer Committee (TTC) of NorthWind is established to enhance the transfer of research results from NorthWind towards commercial use. It coordinates the user case studies, arranges the webinar series Industry meets Science, and has a dialogue with partners on possible innovations. TTC has already arranged three webinars in the series Industry meets Science and has received excellent feedback from the industry on these. Also, TTC also has been approached by two start-up companies that NorthWind will seek to support through connecting with partners and seeking opportunities for funding to mature their innovation towards commercial application.
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.