Foundation Innovations beyond Floating to Unlock Large Scale Offshore Development

The acceleration of deep-water offshore wind development is being held back by a singular focus on floating wind, while innovative fixed-bottom or buoyant foundations provide an immediate route to large-scale, cost-effective deployment at many high resource sites, said Enterprize Energy.

April 19, 2021. By Manu Tayal

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The acceleration of deep-water offshore wind development is being held back by a singular focus on floating wind, while innovative fixed-bottom or buoyant foundations provide an immediate route to large-scale, cost-effective deployment at many high resource sites, said Enterprize Energy.

The company has been a pioneer in the low carbon energy developer taking a resource-first approach to the energy transition.

Recent analysis by the Carbon Trust indicated that development at deep water sites of more than 60 metres would boost European offshore wind capacity by 4TW and US capacity by 2TW.

However, to unlock this capacity, turbines must be installed in areas with significant siting challenges – specifically, their foundations must overcome an uneven seabed and powerful tidal conditions.

Commenting on the development, Ian Hatton, Chairman of Enterprize Energy, said “floating platform designs are lauded as the solution to deep-water challenges, with a number of exciting projects having demonstrated commercial viability at certain sites. However, the positioning of floating wind as the primary route to unlocking deep-water capacity at a global scale is stifling the development of regional production hubs and impacting the cost-effectiveness of potential projects. Innovative foundation designs beyond floating platforms must not be left out of the conversation.”

One foundation design that has a core role in enabling deep water development is the Articulated Wind Column initiative led by ODE in partnership with AWC Tech Ltd - a buoyant, vertical structure with a fixed, iron-ore base.

Articulated Wind Columns can be constructed at sites over 110 metres in depth with a compact footprint which allows for a greater number of turbines and more flexible placement than floating wind.

Crucially, these designs can be constructed from materials that can be manufactured in regional hubs close to the site of the offshore wind project.

Ian further said “as an industry, we have to consider which technology will work best for the proposed site and the communities surrounding it. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel with each step we take towards cleaning up our energy supply – for example, articulated columns have more than four decades of proven use in the oil and gas industry. If we adopt and adapt tried and tested deep-water innovations such as this, the benefits to local manufacturing, levelized cost of energy, and investor risk will be enormous.”

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