Scotland Labeled Hotspot for Production of Concrete Floating Wind Foundations

Scotland could become a world leader in producing low carbon concrete foundations for floating offshore wind farms, according to a study funded by RWE, which is now increasingly involved in floating wind.

Based on the findings, RWE said that Scotland was well placed to manufacture low carbon concrete foundations, attracting significant investment into the Scottish and UK supply chain.

The study identified potential business opportunities from the current ScotWind seabed leasing round, and calls on Scottish politicians, project developers, suppliers and industry experts to join forces and investigate how best to unlock the potential, while maximising opportunities for local investment.

The research was carried out in partnership with researchers at the UK’s Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, through its Floating Offshore Wind Centre of Excellence (FOWCOE), and was also supported by offshore wind industry experts at the Concrete Centre.

The study focused on concrete foundation designs and tested the feasibility of a production facility, capable of building 33 concrete floating foundations for 15 megawatts (MW) turbines each year with researchers reviewing Scotland’s existing experience and capabilities for producing specialist concrete focused on using low carbon methods and materials.

They found that both Scottish ports and industry have existing experience and skills from producing concrete at scale that can be applied to this low carbon alternative.

In terms of scale of opportunity, the study noted that just a single project would require a volume of low carbon concrete potentially up to four times greater than that needed to build one of Scotland’s largest infrastructure projects, the Queensferry Crossing.

It also said that to keep costs low and reduce carbon footprint, concrete production should take place at or close to the quayside where the foundations would be deployed and identified four Scottish ports – Hunterston, Kishorn, Port of Cromarty Firth (Invergordon) and Ardersier, as well as clusters of potential sites, including the Cromarty Firth and the Forth and Tay, which could potentially meet the capacities required.

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The study found that industry would need to invest significantly to ensure the infrastructure is in place to deliver the requirements. It called for more industry-wide work to investigate the business case for developing such a facility, and the steps required to trigger such investment.

RWE aims for 1 GW of floating wind either in operation or under construction by 2030. The company is currently part of three floating offshore wind projects with partners, two of which use concrete foundation designs.

In Spain, RWE is working with Saitec Offshore Technologies on the DemoSATH project, a concrete twin-hull barge structure, made of modular, pre-fabricated components, expected to go into operation mid-2022.

The company is also behind the New England Aqua Ventus project in the US, in partnership with Diamond Offshore Wind and the University of Maine, which will deploy a 11 MW turbine on a concrete semi-submersible structure by 2024.

The most advanced of RWE’s projects is TetraSpar Demonstrator, on which the company teamed up with Stiesdal, TEPCO, and Shell. The TetraSpar platform was recently commissioned off the Norwegian coast near Stavanger.

Photo: Saitec Offshore Technologies