Does the inclusion of Radar Mitigation technology make Windfarms more expensive?

In light of our current funded project with Gurit (AMD | News | DASA Wind Farm Grant) to tackle the challenges of radar mitigation for windfarms I thought it would be good to look further into the economics of the solution proposed by AMD.
AMD commissioned a report from an expert consultant in the field to explain how the cost of wind power generation is calculated. There is much focus on the significant upfront capital cost of offshore wind, such as the 950MW Moray East project announced in 2018 with a headline projected total cost of £2.6 bn. The turbines likely represent just 40% of the total, with the larger proportion of capital costs being consumed by foundations, turbine installation and connection of the wind farm substations to the onshore electricity grid. The blades themselves will likely represent 8-9% of the total cost (i.e. 35% of the actual turbine cost).
ocean wind farm
But the wind farm industry is more concerned with LCOE, the Long term Cost Of Energy, which factors not just the all-in capital cost, but also maintenance, fuel, and energy production. LCOE therefore needs to find the optimum balance of capital vs operating costs which efficiency can mean that higher investment in up-front capital cost ensures a lower LCOE.
Using Moray East as a case study - at a total cost of £2.6 bn for 950MW of generating capacity plus reasonable operating costs with a 45% capacity factor we arrive at a simulated LCOE of £49.60/MW.
If construction of the project at the proposed site is limited or prohibited due to radar risk, any re-siting is likely to be sub-optimal and would result in either a deterioration in site logistics, higher installation costs or reduced generation performance. If it is moved further offshore but is required to maintain its 45% capacity factor, it would likely require greater foundation costs for deeper water and greater interconnection costs to the onshore grid. If these issues raise the project cost by say 20%, the LCOE rises substantially to £57.9/MW, or 17%. The alternative is to find a radar suitable location with similar build costs, but likely inferior wind resources. If we assume that such a site lowers the capacity factor from 45% to 40%, the LCOE similarly rises to £55.8/MW or 13%.
If a materials based radar mitigation strategy cost (for example) £50,000 per blade it would increase the total project cost of the Moray East project to £2.74 bn and the LCOE would be £51.9/MW - 5% higher than the base case assumption.
Base Case45%49.60
Estimated base case with mitigation coating45%51.90
Alternative 1 (further offshore)45%57.90
Atlernative 2 (radar suitable site)40%55.80
Therefore, in taking a holistic view based on LCOE, and by making the optimum siting viable, the inclusion of radar mitigation technology lowers the price of wind energy substantially.
Taking this approach to windfarm investment, such an outcome could lead to a significantly faster and larger build-out of offshore wind in the UK and play an important role in enhancing the UK Government’s ability to achieve its net zero carbon target.
With limited opportunity for further optimisation in blade design, it seems that a materials solution could be the most appropriate and cost-effective answer to the radar mitigation challenge. At AMD with our focus on sustainability we believe our nano-scale solution will be key to this world scale challenge.
John Lee CEO – Advanced Material Development Ltd
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