Photo: Illustration; Image source: Trivane

UK pours £31.6 million into floating wind demo projects

The UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has awarded £31.6 million (approximately €37.7 million) in grant funding to eleven projects through the Floating Offshore Wind (FOW) Demonstration Programme.

With an aim of reducing costs as well as increasing the rate of deployment of floating wind turbines, the funding will support demonstration of innovative technologies in four “challenge areas”: dynamic cables, anchorings and moorings, floaters and foundations, industry defined innovation (other technology), and integrated demonstration of multiple technologies.

SENSE Wind’s project and Integrated Floating Offshore Wind Demonstrator (INFLOAT), reported as two of the eleven winners by our sister site earlier today, are part of the “challenge area” dedicated to integrated demonstration.

SENSE Wind’s project’s overarching innovation is the combination of two technologies, the PelaStar Tension Leg Platform (TLP) floating foundation and the SENSE wind turbine installation system. Adding to this are two additional innovations associated with the TLP: high vertical load anchors and synthetic mooring tendons. Improvements in grid cable support and protection will also be investigated.

The INFLOAT project plans to develop and demonstrate a set of innovative UK technologies addressing all competition technology challenges. The demonstrations will be integrated with the Pentland Demo project where a 15-18 MW class floating platform based on the TetraSub design by Stiesdal Offshore Technologies will be deployed at a site in northern Scotland in 2023.

The project’s overarching objective is to accelerate the roll-out of large scale floating wind by driving down levelised cost of energy (LCOE) whilst growing the UK supply chain’s capability and capacity to deliver.

Cerulean Winds, which recently made headlines by unveiling its floating wind-powered oil and gas decarbonisation proposal, is also awarded funding for integrated demonstration.

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The company’s project is taking an oil and gas sector approach to large-scale floating infrastructure to demonstrate an integrated dynamic system consisting of a mooring system, floating foundation and wind turbine. The project intends to address innovation and optimisation of all aspects of floating wind farm design and installation basis of design at 3 x 1 GW floating wind farms at sites on the UK Continental Shelf.

A project led by Aker Solutions is also being supported by BEIS. The project seeks to integrate dynamic inter-array cables manufactured using Aker Solutions’ Oscilay™ cable manufacturing technique with subsea substations capable of reducing LCOE by 20 per cent compared to traditional topside substations.

Oscilay™ cables have greater machine simplicity and require fewer splices and welds, as well as offering simpler and cheaper offshore installation. Combined with subsea substations, this has the potential to significantly increase the efficiency of energy transmission back to shore, according to Aker Solutions.

Marine Power Systems (MPS) will demonstrate its low-cost floating foundation system for floating wind at megawatt-scale.

The project led by MPS will capitalise on the company’s previous work to demonstrate a 2 MW-scale floating platform that also simultaneously harnesses 0.5 MW of wave energy. The project will demonstrate all aspects of an innovative floating wind platform including: main structure, dynamic cable, moorings, anchors & tensioning/deployment system, MPS says.

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Part of the same funding area is also the Trivane Demonstrator, a trimaran comprising three barges which are connected to one another by box beams and braces, with a standard wind turbine nacelle, blades, and tower mounted near to the stern of the centre barge.

Trivane weathervanes about a turret mooring system at the bow. Fabrication will take place at Ledwood Mechanical Engineering, Pembroke Dock.

The simple form of construction of the three barges means they can be built almost anywhere at a low cost per tonne because the hulls are an assembly of stiffened steel plates.

An image visualizing wind turbine on a a trimaran foundation developed by Trivane
Illustration; Image source: Trivane

In the area of floaters and foundations, AWC Technology is awarded grant funding for its Articulated Wind Column, a buoyant column connected via an articulation to a gravity base anchor which maintains the turbine’s position on the seabed.

The structure achieves stability against environmental loads through the buoyant column creating a righting moment around the single anchor point. The single gravity based anchor allows for a single articulation connection between the column and anchor thus allowing zero structural resistance to overturning.

Buoyant Production Technologies (BPT) will demonstrate its spar-buoy hull design, specifically configured to deliver minimal motions whilst supporting large payloads in the offshore environment. The design is a slender single-column floating facility comprising an upper slender cylinder, and a lower, fully-submerged cylinder which employs passive ballast to deliver stability and motions performance.

The design is scale-able for different applications and engineering analyses indicate that the motions performance of the design is comparable to a full-scale Spar hull form similar to those employed on an existing demonstration project. 

BPT has worked with Siemens Energy and Subsea 7 to develop a floating substation design using the Spar-Buoy technology and it is this design which will be the subject of the current project.

In the funding area for dynamic cables, there was only one awardee: JDR Cable Systems. The company won funding for the Accelerated development of Higher-voltage Export & Array cables for Dynamic applications (AHEAD) project.

The project aims to demonstrate innovative polymer insulation systems to be capable of operation above 66 kV and to 132 kV, potentially as a wet-design as well as an extension of Dynamic Array cable construction to larger and heavily Dynamic Export cables at 132 kV.

The project also includes advanced dynamic cable modelling to engineer cable configurations with higher loadings or stiffer cabling, and integration of next generation optical fibre strain sensing technology into Dynamic HV Export and Array cables to improve offshore cable monitoring and maintenance.

For the demonstration of anchorings and moorings, BEIS awarded two projects by London Marine Consultants and Reflex Marine.

London Marine Consultants won the grant funding for its Disconnectable Buoy Mooring System which enables the mooring and power cable to be installed with reduced risk of damage to all components and with reduced schedule, therefore, reducing the during of the installation campaign, therefore reducing project costs, cost of energy and vessel emissions.

Reflex Marine is being supported for its JAVELIN Deep Set Tensile Anchor Demonstration Project. JAVELIN adapts established offshore drilling techniques to provide a highly efficient anchoring system, according to the company. The anchor’s cone-shaped profile creates hoop stresses in the surrounding media and substrate when the anchor is tensioned creating a powerful ‘friction lock’ deep in the borehole.

JAVELIN is set in a pre-drilled small diameter borehole at significant depth, penetrating high strength geological formations. The design is highly flexible as changes in borehole depth or diameter can easily accommodate local geological variations. The design is also ideal for resisting high angle loading, required for taut-leg mooring solutions, Reflex Marine says. The anchor has a small footprint and low impact upon installation.