Transmission Alternatives for Grid Connection of Large Offshore Wind Farms at Large Distance

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With the great possibility of offshore wind power that can be installed in the world seas, offshore wind power is starting to get and important source of energy.

The growing sizes of wind turbines and a growing distance to land, makes the choice of transmission alternative to a more important factor. The profitability of the transmission solution is affected by many parameters, like investment cost and power losses, but also by parameters like operation & maintenance and lead time of the system.

The study is based on a planned wind farm with a rated power of 1 200 MW and at a distance of 125 km to the connection point. Four models have been made for the transmission network with the technology of HVAC, HVDC and a hybrid of both.

The simulation program used is EeFarm II, which has an interface in Matlab and Simulink. The four solutions have been compared technically, with difficulties and advantages pointed out and also economically, with the help of LCOE, NPV and IRR. Costs, power losses and availability of the wind turbines and intra array network are not included in the study.

The result of the simulations implies that the HVAC solution is the most profitable with the lowest Levelized Cost of Energy and highest Net Price Value and Internal Rate of Return. The values are 25.11 €/MWh, 387.60 M€ and 15.32 % respectively. A HVDC model with just one offshore converter station, has a LCOE close to the HVAC solution, but with a more noticeable difference in NPV and IRR (25.71 €/MWh, 300.76 M€ and 14.84 % respectively).

A sensitivity analysis has been done, where seven different parameters have been changed for analysing their impact on the economic result. The largest impact made was by a change in investment cost and lead times.

The results imply that with a structure of the transmission network as for the models, and with similar input data, the break point where a HVDC solution is more profitable than a HVAC solution is not yet passed at a distance of 125 km from the connection point.

With an evolving technology in the field of HVDC, a shorter lead time and lower investment cost could mean that a HVDC solution would be more profitable at this distance. Difficulties for a HVAC solution with more cable required, like bigger land usage and cable manufacturing as a bottle neck, could make an important factor tough while making a decision.
Source: Umeå University
Author: Moberg, Désirée

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