The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), an intergovernmental organisation that supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future, has published a report Nurturing Offshore Wind Markets: Good Practices for International Standardisation. IRENA believes that standardisation can help to overcome market barriers and spur further deployment of wind power plants. The report draws on the experience from mature energy markets, such as Denmark, Germany and the United Kingdom. “The establishment of such international standards brings the work of a number of experienced offshore leaders together, merging their efforts to forge an instrument for cost reduction and investment stimulation,” said Francisco Boshell, analyst at IRENA. Development of a harmonised and documented global standardisation framework is believed to enables countries to access the cost-effective potential of offshore wind. In particular, standardisation is expected to increase consumer and investor confidence, improve safety, greater reliability and reduce transaction costs for offshore technology and create a pathway to accelerated growth.

As regards safety, reliability and risk mitigation, the industry is looking back to learn a lesson from the more traditional offshore industries – oil and gas. However, the report outlines that numerous challenges associated with offshore wind generation have no historical reference and require new thinking and tailored solutions.

According to IRENA, widely recognised standards can strengthen trade and enhance co-operation through international organisations. However, successful implementation of standards depends on quality infrastructure, including metrology, testing, certification and accreditation schemes. Thus, comprehensive standardisation should involve multidisciplinary approach building on marine conditions, offshore wind technologies as well as local policy. To fully benefit from standardisation, health and safety standards should be harmonised and standards for control systems, operation and maintenance, shipping, stowage and clamping of wind turbine components, and wind farm end-of-life procedures developed.

Most of the work in standardisation in the field of wind energy generation systems is implemented by Technical Committee 88 of the International Electrotechnical Commission, which has responsibility for wind energy generation systems including wind turbines, wind power plants and connection to the electrical system. However, these standardisation bodies these require bold support from governments to be able to respond quickly to the needs of an industry and to unlock the potential of wind energy.