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Durham University

Durham Energy Institute

Investment Planning Under Severe Uncertainties in Offshore Wind - Novel Power System Planning Techniques

Project Team

Dr Matthias Troffaes (Mathematical Sciences Department),

Dr Behzad Kazemtabrizi (Engineering Department), and

Dr Ander Madariaga (Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult).

This project is jointly sponsored by the Faculty of Science at Durham University and by the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult.


The project aims to investigate investment planning over a wide range of technology options by formulating a set of decision problems. The aim of the project is to find the best investment and asset management decisions on offshore transmission for a typical offshore wind farm which would be both economically and technically viable under severe uncertainty, given the scarce data and limited expert knowledge.

The project is looking at current investment models in the UK and US and looking at investment decisions that have been taken on existing wind farms, to then look at applying these to the future to develop the best models for dealing with future uncertainties and ensuring the best decisions are made.

Physics-based models for different offshore transmission technologies are coupled with statistical models to account for inherent uncertainties in both operational and environmental data which could ultimately influence initial investment and asset management decisions. The novel power system planning technique which is being developed will support decisions on offshore transmission assets which have to be taken under severe uncertainties and in a context of limited information and knowledge. Examples of investment decisions are the types of cables and topology for offshore transmission infrastructure. The national regulatory regimes being assessed include comparing the Offshore transmission owner (OFTO) regime for the UK to non-OFTO regimes.

Throughout the next decade, the power industry in the UK and elsewhere is going to be taking important investment decisions on strategic assets to address the key issues described above. And this is going to happen under severe uncertainties of a technical, economic and regulatory nature. The offshore transmission industry needs to keep providing solutions that maintain the right balance between availability-affordability-sustainability, in an industry with very short operational history and new technologies deployed in every project. The challenge for academic and industrial research power systems engineers is to design, test and validate new power system planning and asset management techniques to support the right decisions being taken under the severe uncertainties in the offshore transmission industry of the 2020's.

This research will help to:

  • Help improve reliability and competitiveness of offshore wind power
  • Reduce risks of investing under severe uncertainty