A tool that can accurately measure offshore wind resources in the Mediterranean Sea began operating this week, off the Catalan coast.
Academic and industrial organisations, including Barcelona's Institute for Energy Research (IREC), joined forces to launch the Neptune project. It aims to improve preliminary wind, wave and sea current assessments to inform decisions on projects, reduce their risks and make them more attractive to investors.
Most European offshore wind capacity is currently located in the North Sea. The tools used there are unsuitable for the Mediterranean, which has a more complex profile, it is argued. Neptune’s director, Frieder Schuon, said the project will "allow us to predict resources and assess conditions in the sea with more precision and lower costs".
Neptune relies on an "Eolos" buoy equipped with Lidar technology and capable of measuring the wind at different heights. It is claimed to be up to ten times cheaper than met masts. The "Neptool" software is used to crunch data collected by Eolos to produce a range of predictions, including estimated energy yields.
The project’s backers expect it to be suitable for other complex sea areas, beyond the Mediterranean.