In the face of increased demand for off-shore wind energy – including the UK Government’s recently announced ambition to deliver 30 percent of the country’s electricity from this renewable source by 2030 – Ricardo is creating a dedicated team to service a significant growth in demand for consultancy expertise, including the provision of advanced technologies and innovations developed by the company.
The new team represents a significant expansion of Ricardo’s activity in off-shore wind consulting and builds upon the company’s investments in technology development specific to the unique demands of off-shore wind energy. The off-shore environment brings significant opportunities in terms of the reliability and strength of prevailing winds and, freed from the constraints of land-based transportation and installation, the size of turbines that can be used. At the same time, the challenges of maintaining and operating wind turbines in the marine environment are considerably greater than on-shore, meaning that operation and maintenance costs are considerably higher.
The key business driver for success of any wind energy project is the cost per megawatt hour of electricity generated, and for this reason technologies that can help deliver reliability and service life are extremely valuable. This has been the focus of significant effort by the Ricardo Innovations team in recent years, which has resulted in the development of a range of proprietary wind energy innovations that the company can now exploit in providing high-value engineering and strategic consulting services. These are based on the use of advanced sensors and control algorithms, as well as sophisticated mechatronic systems, aimed at optimizing the operation of off-shore wind turbines and proactively targeting and planning maintenance operations.
The customer base for Ricardo’s wind energy consulting team services includes some of the leading international players in the off-shore wind energy sector, from major turbine manufacturers to wind farm developers and investors. The success of this approach to the commercialization of the results of Ricardo’s investment in research and development is demonstrated in the requirement for this significant increase in the company’s wind energy consulting capacity.
“Having invested in the development of a portfolio of technologies that have the potential to transform the economics of off-shore wind energy projects and proven these both in the lab and in test installations in operating wind farms, it is exciting that we are now bringing these to the benefit of commercial projects,” commented Professor Jonathan Wheals, chief engineer, Ricardo Innovations. “With our expanded team we aim to support the growth in demand from off-shore wind projects in UK waters as well as internationally, as the benefits of this form of clean renewable energy are increasingly recognized as an attractive alternative to fossil fuel-based power generation.”