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Floating wind technologies tap into £1m fund

By John Davidson

Winners of a competition to help develop floating wind technologies and reduce costs in the sector have been unveiled.

Eight entries were chosen to share in the £1 million fund to develop their technologies, including a 3D printed anchor and a self-charging mooring line monitoring device.

The Floating Wind Technology Acceleration Competition was designed to address four key industry challenge areas that need to be overcome to commercialise floating wind – monitoring and inspection; mooring systems; heavy lift maintenance; and tow to port maintenance.

Run by the Carbon Trust's Floating Wind Joint Industry Project (JIP) and funded by the Scottish Government, the winning projects will also receive support from the 14 leading offshore wind developers represented in the Floating Wind JIP.

Jan Matthiesen, director of offshore wind at the Carbon Trust, said: "Floating wind is on the precipice of scaling to deliver significant capacity in the energy system.

"The competition is supporting a number of exciting technology innovations in critical challenge areas identified by industry. We are excited and optimistic for both the potential of these innovations to reach commercialisation and their ability to positively impact the sector."

Floating offshore wind is an emerging renewables sector, with significance for places like Scotland where water depths often do not allow for the use of fixed bottom turbines. Floating wind is forecast to scale up to 12GW of capacity globally by 2030, becoming a market estimated to be worth £32 billion.

Hywind Scotland off the coast of Peterhead is the first commercial floating wind farm in the world.
Hywind Scotland off the coast of Peterhead is the first commercial floating wind farm in the world.

The draft Sectoral Marine Plan for Offshore Wind Energy outlines the Scottish Government’s plans to deliver up to 10GW of offshore wind, the majority of which will be in deeper waters suitable for floating wind. To achieve this scale, accelerating technology innovation to lower the cost of energy from floating wind will be critical.

Energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said: "We are funding the Carbon Trust’s Floating Wind Technology Acceleration Competition in order to address key technical challenges in the sector. Given Scotland’s unique deep-water profile, floating offshore wind will undoubtedly play a huge role in our future energy system, as we transition to a net-zero economy and we know that key overseas markets are also looking to exploit floating wind technology to meet their own energy needs.

"The innovative solutions developed by the competition winners will help reduce costs in the sector and could allow floating wind technology to reach commercial scale deployment earlier than previously anticipated and that could prove vital as Scotland and other coastal nations seek to head off the climate emergency."

The successful applicants are from a variety of sectors including oil and gas, IT and telecommunications, and engineering. The innovations range in maturity, therefore the funding will be used to support different activities from desktop studies to offshore demonstration.

Ben Miller, senior policy manager at industry body Scottish Renewables, said: “Floating wind technology provides us with another tool to tap Scotland’s outstanding offshore renewable energy resource.

"As home to the world’s first floating offshore wind farm we’re already leading the way, and today’s announcement represents welcome investment in the development of the technologies which will be needed if Scotland is to retain that world lead.”

The companies and their winning technologies are:

  • Fugro, AS Mosley and University of Strathclyde (monitoring and inspection) – Condition monitoring software which uses readily available acceleration and motion data points from floating offshore wind structures to extrapolate how the wider structure responds to stress.
  • Technology from Ideas and WFS Technologies (monitoring and inspection) – A load monitoring system to identify stresses on mooring lines and times when maintenance is needed. The monitoring system will be integrated into an existing spring, which also acts as a dampener on mooring lines, and is powered by movement of the lines.
  • Dublin Offshore (mooring systems) – A load reduction device that sits partway up the mooring line and pivots in the water to minimise movement of the floating platform during wave events.
  • Intelligent Mooring Systems and University of Exeter (mooring systems) – A new pressure-based dampener which sits between the platform and mooring line to reduce the load on floating platforms.
  • RCAM Technologies and the Floating Wind Technology Company (mooring systems) – A concrete anchor, produced using 3D printing technology, which is sunk and then embedded in the seabed through suction.
  • Vryhof (mooring systems) – An adjustable lock on the seabed used to manipulate the tension of the mooring lines. This is an alternative to a winch sitting on the turbine platform, and enables vessels to adjust the tension of mooring lines at a safe distance from the platform.
  • Conbit (heavy lift maintenance) – A temporary crane which sits on top of the turbine (the nacelle) to winch parts up and down for maintenance. This could enable larger turbines to be serviced offshore than is currently feasible.
  • Aker Solutions (tow to port maintenance) – A splice box connecting two dynamic array cables, and allowing them to be wet-stored on the seabed when a turbine is towed to port. This will also enable an array of floating wind turbines to remain operational when one floating platform is removed for maintenance.

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