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Offshore wind energy

Innovative company network for offshore energy drills into economic potential

Offshore energy is a growth market with a large export potential for our companies. It is also a challenging market with a capital-intensive and risky nature, market consolidation, multidisciplinary and technological diversity and a strong drive towards performance increase and cost reduction. The market complexity demands a structured cluster effect that focuses on innovation supported by cooperation, among ourselves and with foreign stakeholders, to make maximum use of the economic potential of offshore energy in Flanders.


Those who operate in offshore energy or want to discover the possibilities to develop innovative products and services for their company, can, since 2017, reach out to the innovative business network (IBN) for offshore energy. This IBN provides substantive support to elaborate innovative projects related to offshore wind, wave and tidal energy. Sirris has taken the lead in this partnership with project partners Ghent University, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and Agoria.


Via the cluster effect, (technological) knowledge can be linked at an accelerated pace to effective implementation, market-focused R&D investments are supported by demonstrations, new value chains can be realised on the basis of integrated solutions and the Flemish content can be represented in international forums on research, development and innovation.


The IBN currently has 40 members.

Corrosion solutions make the offshore sector more competitive

How can a new sector benefit from the knowledge and experience of traditional sectors? This is the starting premise of the Europese NeSSIE project (NeSSIE stands for North Sea Solutions for Innovation in Corrosion for Energy). The objective of NeSSIe is to create investment opportunities for offshore renewable energy by tackling the costs linked to corrosion.


Sustainable solutions for corrosion are one of the greatest challenges with regard to offshore systems because of the impact of corrosion on structural integrity and maintenance costs. Addressing corrosion is, therefore, the determining factor for the competitiveness of offshore energy when compared to traditional energy extraction.


The aim of NeSSIE is to stimulate strategic partnerships to start new business opportunities in the maritime industry. Three investment-ready demonstration projects are also being elaborated. These present corrosion solutions for the wind, wave and tidal energy sector. During an initial step, available corrosion-prevention solutions were mapped in a state-of-the-art document.


Sirris is also involved in the consortium through the OWI-Lab (Offshore Wind Infrastructure Application Lab), contributing essential technological input.


Award for the best publication for OWI-Lab at the Offshore Wind Energy conference

The long-term R&D efforts of the OWI-Lab at the offshore wind farm Belwind were rewarded with the award for the best R&D publication in the 'turbine technology' category during the Offshore Wind Energy conference held in London (UK).


Since 2011, the OWI-Lab has been measuring accelerations at the Belwind wind farm on the foundations of an offshore wind turbine with a monopile substructure. In the first instance, the objective of this R&D measuring project was to validate the design through on-site measurements on the operational wind turbine. The resonance frequencies were especially important to the operator since these can provide insight into the long-term condition of the seabed at the wind farm site. The results have shown that the second resonance frequency has gradually increased in five years time. This long-term evolution demonstrates that the seabed conditions change as time passes depending on the offshore wind, which justifies the continued monitoring of resonance frequencies.


The award-winning R&D publication is by Wout Weijtjens, a researcher at the OWI-Lab.

OWI-Lab, R&D partner of and for the wind industry

In 2017 the OWI-Lab continued to support the wind sector by supplying content.


OWI-Lab and a few project partners were present at the Smart@Sea breakout session on wind energy on 20 April in Oostend which is part of the OWOME VIS project (Offshore Wind O&M Excellence - Vlaams Innovatiesamenwerkingsverband; Flemish Innovation Partnerships). This event related to digitisation in the offshore wind energy sector put players from the IT sector in contact with offshore energy players to discover mutual synergies.


On 21 September, the Belgian Energy Research Alliance (BERA) together with the Offshore Energy IBN (in which the OWI-Lab is also involved), TWEED (Technology of Wallonia Energy, Environment and sustainable Development) and VLIZ (Flanders Marine Institute) are organising a brokerage event to connect the Belgian offshore wind industry with research centres to stimulate innovation. In addition to OWI-Lab, the Sirris Data Innovation department will also be represented at the brokerage event.


The focus of the 'Optimising Wind Farms In Cold Climates' event that took place on 17 and 18 October in Antwerp was on the commercial and technical complexities that hinder the operation of wind farms. The technical complexity could be perfectly demonstrated in the climate chamber of the OWI-Lab. Wind turbines, after all, confront icy conditions more and more often in various areas of the world. The turbines in these climate conditions must sometimes be disconnected and restarted. It is, therefore, essential that specific components are tested for a cold start. A test demonstration under extreme temperatures at the OWI-Lab was attended by a delegation of manufacturers, owners and service providers from the wind industry as part of this event. These stakeholders witnessed the effect of low temperatures and black ice on important components. Alongside the wind turbine transformer tests, samples of anti-ice coatings and ice detection on small wind turbine blades were also tested.


The WindEurope Conference & Exhibition, the international conference and trade fair for and about wind energy on land and at sea took place in the RAI in Amsterdam from 28 to 30 November 2017. The event conference programme was strong. It included topics on turbine technology ranging from funding to logistics but also Operations & Maintenance (O&M) with speakers from leading companies, the authorities and research institutions and universities. The Belgian sector was appropriately represented by various stand holders. The OWI-Lab shared a stand with Fabriek voor de Toekomst Blue Energy at the trade fair.