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Offshore wind turbine installation to be researched

wind farm

Siemens Gamesa and Aalborg University are to lead a €20M EU-funded R&D project to research and develop the installation of offshore wind turbines to significantly reduce the cost of offshore wind power.

Officially entitled “Integrated Implementation of Industrial Innovations for Offshore Wind Cost Reduction”, the project is supported by a €20M European Union grant.

The i4Offshore project will demonstrate and test new offshore wind power technologies, based on geotechnical engineering, structural analysis, production and risk analysis, and will test a complete installation of a future version of a full-scale Siemens Gamesa offshore turbine.

A new 1,000t bucket foundation, a steel jacket, a concrete transition piece and a new cable connection will prove that the technology is reliable, and that production, transport, and installation can be done more cost effectively.

“One of the challenges of offshore wind energy is that the high cost of building offshore wind turbines has necessitated various governmental subsidies to improve the business case. While all forms of industrial power generation receive governmental support, whether from renewable, fossil, or other sources, our project aims at making offshore wind energy even more cost-effective without external financial support,” says Aalborg University professor Lars Bo Ibsen.

The project aims to apply the advanced technologies to reduce the levelized cost of energy from offshore wind - the calculations that show the total cost of electricity from a particular energy technology when all costs are included.

“We already have a lot of pieces that we know work separately. Now we are in the process of assembling them into a large puzzle, and testing that they work together. As this is proven, we look to demonstrate to customers, banks, and investors that offshore wind makes even more financial and environmental sense for the future,” Ibsen adds.

SGRE’s project lead and senior specialist in offshore technologies Jesper Moeller said: “Siemens Gamesa is committed to reducing the cost of offshore wind energy, and greatly welcomes this grant. Our constant focus on innovation – along with strong partners, customers, and support such as from the EU – enables us to push the industry forward, delivering a lower levelized cost of energy and higher annual energy production. The R&D work we’ll do during this project has clear goals of benefitting our customers, ratepayers, and society-at-large.”

The project will also test installation solutions with a minimal environmental footprint, such as suction bucket foundations.

“Using a suction-bucket foundation benefits whales and other undersea life by eliminating the soundwaves which hammering causes. Also, once the wind turbine has exhausted its many years of operational life, the suction buckets, jacket foundation, and transition piece can be decommissioned and removed relatively easily. The materials, including steel, concrete and cables, can be re-used in a highly resource-efficient manner,” says Moeller.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

In August Siemens Gamesa announced a partnership with Universal Foundation to undertake field trials of an industrialised suction bucket concept.

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