Step 1: Identify a suitable wind farm location

Identifying the wind farm in which you want to start your Multi-Use activity seems as straightforward as looking on the map and pick the closest option. However, there is actually much more to it than you would think. And almost all of these aspects will have an effect on your business case, your operations and perhaps even your daily enjoyment in your work. However, if you follow the steps as part of this Step1 then you will be able to identify all relevant aspects for your Multi-Use activity and thus work towards a viable and workable Multi-Use endeavour in one of the offshore wind farms!


Step 1.1 Identify the boundary conditions

Each type of Multi-Use activity will have its own set of boundary conditions such as maximum distance to shore, preferred water depth, proximity to your office, etc. It is important to identify these boundary conditions for your own Multi-Use activity because this will help you to determine what offshore wind farm locations are suitable for you. In the below steps we have some guidelines to help you to identify these boundary conditions.

Step 1.1.1 Identify your Site Conditions

This includes all environmental parameters that are/could be relevant for your Multi-Use activity. For example, wave height may be important if your activity includes systems that are floating on the water surface like floating solar panels. However, if nature development on the seabed is your Multi-Use activity, then seabed conditions and tidal current speeds may be more relevant and even governing.
Usually, or at least in current offshore industries, these environmental parameters are summarised with the term Site Conditions. That is because for each offshore site, these parameters will have specific values that characterise this site, for instance the one of the Site Conditions of the North Sea Innovation Lab is that the water depth is between 18-20m.

In Site Conditions, the following parameters are included:

  • Wind speed, direction & frequency of occurrence;
  • Wave height, direction & frequency of occurrence;
  • Water current speeds, direction & frequency of occurrence;
  • Water depth;
  • Seabed shape and profile (usually indicated with the term geophysical parameters (This includes presence of sand banks, sand dunes and obstacles such as shipwrecks and unexploded ordnance)
  • Seabed soil/ ground conditions (usually indicated with the term geotechnical parameters (This include type of soil such as sand, clay, rocks, etc.)

This should cover most of the Site Conditions although there may be a few more (e.g. ice), nevertheless, it’s a good list to start with. It is now up to you to determine the limiting values for each of these parameters for your Multi-Use activity. Don’t worry too much as of yet about the level of detail. Just make a start by identifying what you already know. Further details can be added later when you progress with your design. In case you need an example of this, just look in Step 1.2.1, that includes a link to a few Site Conditions reports that were made for the various offshore wind farms.

Result of this step: a list of site conditions for your Multi-Use that a potential offshore wind location has to comply with.

1.1.2       Identify your Production Conditions

This basically follows the same logic as explained in Step 1.1.1 above with the only difference that this should cover parameters directly related to your production. This list of parameters is of course very specific to your Multi-Use activity so you should now be the expert on what’s needed here. Below you find an example of production parameters relevant for seaweed production:

  • Water depth
  • Water turbidity range
  • Water temperature range
  • Nutrient flux (Ph, N)
  • Salinity
  • Contaminants in the water

Result of this step: a list of production conditions for your Multi-Use that a potential offshore wind location has to comply with.

1.1.3       Identify your Logistical Conditions

This basically follows the same logic as explained in Step 1.1.1 above with the only difference that this should cover parameters directly related to your logistical aspects of your production process. This may prove more important than you would initially think so pay close attention here, because it may have significant impact on your overall business case. Here is a potential list of parameters that could be include in this category:

  • Port locations in the vicinity of your Multi-Use area
  • Sailing distance and time from you port to your Multi-Use area
  • Facilities in the preferred port location for storage, assembly and transport of any equipment you may need as part of your installation/maintenance activities
  • Distance of the preferred port location to your offices
  • Availability of marine service contractors in the preferred port
  • Availability of sufficient trained personnel in the region of your preferred port location
  • Facilities in your preferred port for processing, storage and distribution of your product (in case of food/biomass production)
  • Potential for cooperation with the relevant Wind Farm Operator
  • Maximum size of the Multi-Use Area in the wind farm
  • Potential for future expansion of the Multi-Use in the wind farm
  • Availability of a grid connection


Step 1.2: What offshore wind farm locations are suitable for you?

After you have identified the boundary conditions that are important for your Multi-Use activity to be successful, it is now the time to try and find a wind farm that will match with your conditions. Below you find an overview of steps you can follow to try to determine this.

1.2.1 Identify wind farms that are compliant with your Site Conditions

You could almost argue that there are two types of wind farms in The Netherlands. The ones before and the ones after the “Energieakkoord” of 2013.

The important difference is that for the new wind farms, after 2013, all the Site Conditions have been prepared by RVO and are therefore publicly available. You can find this on the RVO website. For example, the Borssele wind farm area data can be found here. 

However, this information is not available for the wind farms before 2013; the Site Conditions of those farms is privately owned by the Wind Farm Operators. Please note that sometimes the operators have paid large amounts of money to collect this data; so you can expect some reluctance in sharing the data. Furthermore, these wind farms are generally a lot smaller than the new ones with limited space between the wind turbines and were not designed to allow any form of Multi-Use. So, this may not be the best place to start looking for your Multi-Use area.

1.2.2 Identify wind farms that are compliant with your Production Conditions

This information will be a lot harder to come by, largely because it is not available or not available in a, for normal people, understandable format. Nevertheless, there is some preliminary information available.

For seaweed production there is an online map viewer on the RWS website. You can find the information on the production conditions for various crops and species under the following tabs: Project data / Mariene projecten / Noordzeeboerderij (NZB). Furthermore, there are various research reports available at NIOZ, WMR and Deltares that could help.

In the case of mussels, the first place to look for this would be WMR, NIOZ and PO Mossel. The difficulty is that mussel cultivation has traditionally been focussed on the Oosterschelde and the Waddenzee so the amount of information may be limited here. In the case of oysters for food production, again WMR and NIOZ would be your first stop. Also be aware of various initiatives for oyster reef restoration by De Rijke Noordzee, NORA, WNF, etc.

Information on nature restoration, solar energy productionpassive fishery are to be included.

1.2.3.  Identify wind farms that are compliant with your Logistical Conditions

There is no immediate source to verify all of these parameters for a particular selected wind farm. Instead, what could be helpful is to ask from some help of a GiS service provider. GiS stands for Geographic Information System and it allows to make maps with specific views. For instance, a map of a wind farm with the maximum size of a Multi-Use area in the farm taking into account all of the boundary conditions. But also, all wind farms in a range of 45minutes sailing from Scheveningen. There are various parties that could support you in this, you can also look into the website of North Sea Farm or TKI Wind op Zee for companies that could provide such services.


Results of step 1? 

At the end of step 1, you have a list of Site conditions, Production Conditions and Logistical Conditions. These are the conditions that the potential offshore wind location has to comply with in order for you to be happy to start your multi-use activity. Do you already have an idea which offshore wind farm might suit your needs?

Go to step 2! >> 

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