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Energy Analysis of Offshore Systems

NREL has a long history of successful research to understand and improve the cost of wind generation technology. As a research laboratory, NREL is a neutral, third party and can provide an unbiased perspective of methodologies and approaches used to estimate direct and indirect economic impacts of offshore wind.

Chart of cost data for actual and projected offshore wind projects as reported by developers.

Market Analysis

NREL's extensive research on installed and proposed projects in Europe, the United States, and other emerging offshore markets enables the compilation of a database of installed and proposed project costs. These are used to report on cost trends. Recent studies include:

  • Analysis of capital cost trends for planned and installed offshore wind projects
  • Discounted cash-flow analysis (with the University of Delaware) to identify the breakeven prices for offshore wind investors in the United States
  • Development of a strategy to assess the economics of offshore wind projects that use floating substructures

Economic Modeling

NREL researchers conduct economic analysis of wind projects to quantify the impact of various technical innovations on the levelized cost of wind energy (LCOE).

NREL's Wind Turbine Design Cost and Scaling Model estimates component level costs based on wind turbine size, annual energy production, and operation costs. The model represents the initial capital investment of offshore wind projects, considering project size, water depth, distance from shore, and turbine technology. NREL also develops discounted cash-flow models to quantify the impact of financing rates, investment or production incentives, and ownership structures on cost of energy.

Ongoing research focuses on strengthening cost model accuracy in all areas of offshore wind project analysis. NREL is expanding its capabilities to better represent the initial capital investment of offshore wind projects, and is working to develop offshore balance-of-station and operation and maintenance models to enhance systems engineering models.

For further details on NREL's energy analysis capabilities, see Energy Analysis.