Wind power is the cornerstone of our future energy supply and for this reason it needs to be considered not just in technical terms but also from an economic, sociological and ecological standpoint. Considerations about the economic viability of new design concepts and the operation of wind turbines and wind farms are important issues for the large-scale use of wind energy. Power station-sized wind farms and the opening up of the renewable energy market to competition also require business models and the development of appropriate fi nancing strategies. The Research Alliance Wind Energy also has expertise in this area and, at the moment, is working on the development of suitable tools.

Public Acceptance and Risk Management

The public acceptance of wind energy projects is also an issue that is closely connected with these efforts. One proven approach to enhance local support, besides careful and participatory wind farm planning, is to involve local citizens as investors in the scheme. For major institutional investors, such as banking and insurance consortia and investment funds, it is essential that all technical and economic risks are transparent and calculable so that fair risk premiums can be worked out. The correlations that exist between the individual risk factors, which are always difficult to determine, are of particular importance here. The FVWE has many years of experience in integrated risk assessment and comprehensive risk management.
The question of public acceptance of wind turbines in open areas and in forests is attracting increasing attention, because of the impact of noise emissions, the importance of biotope networks, the threat to birds and bats and other issues. With these issues in mind, skilled scientists and researchers from the FVWE are able to study turbine generated noise emissions and their detrimental influence on man and his environment.

Ecological Accompanying Research

The increasing use of wind energy, both onshore and offshore, calls for an extended integration of environmental issues from the application, planning and project implementation stages through to the subsequent maintenance and repowering phases. For this reason, the FVWE has been focusing on this complex area through a number of individual projects and has over the years gradually built up competence in this field.
Offshore wind turbine projects also pose complex ecological questions. The main themes here include resting and migratory bird monitoring and the reduction in underwater piling noise, especially for the protection of marine mammals. The complex issues involved in the accompanying ecological research can now be effectively investigated by biologists and engineers working together within the FVWE and this effort will yield long-term cost reductions and more effective risk assessments right through to the repowering stage. The development of specially adapted and market-ready radar systems is another future-oriented research area of industrial relevance that can be transferred to the business sector. The same applies to the ongoing development of auto- nomous unmanned aerial vehicles for reliable deployment in the offshore sector. These research results will be used for the benefi t to all and will advance the scientific understanding of environmental changes resulting from offshore and onshore wind turbines.