A new £2.4 million project aims to cut the costs of offshore wind power by optimising the design of turbine tower foundations.
The UK Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) has announced the Improved Fatigue Life of Welded Jacket Connections (JaCo) scheme.
Steel jackets are welded tubular frames made from carbon steel with each connection point, or node, a potential weak point in the structure. They are gradually replacing traditional monopile structures, which are single steel cylinders.
The project plans to give insight into fatigue performance by testing a range of differently constructed full-size jacket nodes, with the ultimate aim of reducing weight and so lowering capital and installation costs.
Jacket weight reductions of 10% are thought to be achievable if the overall strength of the steel structures is enhanced by 10-20% through optimised design.
The OWA believes this is key if the offshore wind industry is going to economically develop wind farms in waters too deep for conventional monopile foundations.
The project is backed by developers DONG Energy, EnBW, ScottishPower Renewables, Statoil and Vattenfall with funding from the Scottish Government.
Belgian material research centre OCAS will handle fatigue tests for the scheme, which will run over a three-year period.