Research Aims to Cut Cost of Offshore Wind Farm Fabrication

offshore wind farm monopole
Project seeks to prove a new method of welding to speed assembly and lower cost for offshore wind farms (Carbon Trust)

Published Jan 13, 2023 7:08 PM by The Maritime Executive

A new research effort supported by many of the leading companies developing offshore wind farms and funded by the EU is investigating single-sided welding techniques. If found to be successful, the project organizers believe this new welding methodology could help ease bottlenecks in development and cut the cost of wind turbine fabrication.

Known as the “Fatigue Assessment of Single-Sided Welds in Tubular Joints for Offshore Wind Foundations” (ASSISI) project, it is looking at the viability of single-sided welds in tubular joints for offshore structures. If the fabrication method is found to be effective for offshore wind structures, it could replace the preferred double-sided welding method currently used across the industry.

“We are looking forward to determining the fatigue performance of single-sided welds in their full scale,” said Philippe Thibaux, Staff Manager Application and Solutions at OCAS (the Belgian Research Centre for Application of Steel), which is leading the project. “We aim to increase productivity and reduce cost of offshore wind foundations further, on both monopile attachments and jacket foundations.”

The three-year project will conduct 15 fatigue tests across different types of large-scale structures, in addition to a number of small-scale fatigue tests to determine detectable flaw size. This will include numerical simulations and physical testing to replicate the impact on the weld over a structure’s 25-year lifespan. It’s hoped a successful outcome will instill confidence and see single-sided welding become industry standard, potentially speeding up and cutting the costs of fabrication for offshore wind foundations.

Alicia Stammers, Associate from the Carbon Trust said, “the OWA ASSISI project aims to improve industry confidence in single-sided welds, which will encourage time and cost savings within the manufacturing processes for offshore foundations. As a result, the project will help to accelerate the buildout of offshore wind capacity which is needed to meet ambitious climate targets.”

OCAS is leading the research in collaboration with their research partner the Iemants group’s Smulders engineering company as part of the Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) program. The is in part funded by a partnership between leading companies in the offshore wind industry, EDF Renouvelables, Parkwind, Scottish Power Renewables, Shell, SSE Renewables, TotalEnergies and Vattenfall. The project also received funding from the NextGenerationEU program, made available through the Flemish Agency for Innovation and Enterprise (VLAIO).