United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Oxford Uni ties up with wind industry for monopile research

UK: Major players in the offshore sector including Dong and Vattenfall have combined to commission a major academic study that could lead to a cut in the cost of offshore wind power by up to 40% in less than 10 years.

An offshore monopile foundation being shipped
An offshore monopile foundation being shipped

Led by Dong Energy, the study will consider how the cost of monopile foundations for offshore wind turbines could be cut in their manufacture and installation.

Oxford University will head the 18-month long investigation, with support from researchers at Imperial College, London and University College, Dublin.

Backers of the study also includes RWE, Statoil, SSE and Scottish Power, and the Pile Soil Analysis (PISA) project will be run under the auspices of the Carbon Trust Offshore Wind Accelerator, a UK government-supported agency that promotes cheaper offshore wind power.

Dong Energy wind power senior vice president, Bent Christensen, said: "We expect to find significant savings by trimming monopile sizes and finding new ways of installing the foundations, amongst others. 'Consequently, we believe a significant contribution can come from this area towards our efforts of reducing the price of offshore wind power by 35 to 40 per cent by 2020."

Currently, the monopile foundation for a typical offshore wind turbine weighs around 600 tonnes, and is chiefly made of steel. Any reduction in the thickness of the monoplie, without a fall in load-carrying capacity or stiffness, will produce significant savings.

Byron Byrne civil engineering lecturer with the Department of Engineering Science at the University of Oxford said he expected to see "significant improvements in the foundation design methods used for future offshore wind developments".

The study will begin work on 1 August, and the final report will be published in early 2015.

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