Who knew turbines could be so interesting! Now that I have the engineers in the room fired up, I’d like to explain why this project really has me blown off my feet (my last and only wind pun, I promise).
Last September I started my work as a researcher in the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute (FAI). The X-Rotor project has provided many firsts in my career. It is the first large scale, interdisciplinary, and international project I have ever worked on. Likewise, it is my first exposure to research on offshore wind technology and it has also provided me with the opportunity to attend my first international conference.
As a recent graduate from the University of Strathclyde’s Applied Economics MSc programme, I have had the pleasure of being taught and mentored by many gifted economists. This project has provided me with the opportunity to continue to learn from some of them including Dr Kevin Connolly and Dr Grant Allan who leads our work on assessing the system-wide economic impact of X-Rotor turbines.
What are we doing?
Our work builds on previous research aimed at evaluating the system-wide economic impact of a reduction in the levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) associated with technological improvements in offshore wind technology.
A computable general equilibrium (CGE) model is an ideal tool for this task as the model allows for a change in the price of electricity to feed through the economy and impact the supply and demand activities of producers and consumers.
Much of our work has involved preparing the data required to run our CGE model. To model the impact of the X-Rotor concept we need to have a detailed account of the purchases and sales off the offshore wind sector. The ONS produce Input-Output (IO) tables which have this data available for the electricity sector as a single entity covering generation (all technologies), distribution, transmission, and trade.
Our first task was then to use other sources of publicly available data to disaggregate this single sector – producing nine electricity sectors including eight generation technologies and a single supply sector. Luckily for me, there is a robust body of this work that has come out of our economics department and several researchers who were able to keep me on the right track.
Moving forward our work involves simulating the LCOE reduction associated with the X-Rotor concept. LCOE estimation of X-Rotor – which is a key input into our simulations – is being carried out by our partners at University College Cork (UCC). We will continue to remain in close contact while working together and supporting each other’s research.
What have I learned and what has been my favourite part?
So far, our work on this project has reinforced the value of open communication and good project management. With so many different partners and deadlines these skills are essential to producing timely and quality work. For many of you this will seem like the most obvious statement – but for someone just starting to work on large scale projects this is an invaluable lesson. My favourite part of the project so far was getting the opportunity to attend the EERA DeepWind conference in Trondheim, Norway. On this trip I was able to interact with and learn from many enthusiastic experts involved in this rapidly growing sector.
For an economist who has never worked on the offshore wind sector, I was swept off my… the conference left me convinced that both fixed- and floating- offshore wind technologies will have a transformative impact on our energy system.
I am incredibly grateful to the economics department of Strathclyde, the X-Rotor consortium, and the European Union’s Horizon 2020 funding programme for the opportunity to be involved in cutting edge research in offshore wind.