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Concrete plans for wind

Concrete gravity base foundations (GBF) could be the best option for the next phase of offshore wind farms, says the Concrete Centre with new designs unveiled this week.

Six firms and the Concrete Centre have come up with new designs, which they hope will be cheaper than steel piled alternatives.

Crown Estate sold nine offshore wind farm site development licences for locations off the UK coast in January.

These are the so-called third round of offshore wind development licences and could lead to the creation of up to 32GW of new generating capacity.

The new designs were developed by Gifford/BMT/Freyssinet, Arup/Costain/Hochtief, Concrete Marine Solutions, Consolis Hormifust, Vertax and Xanthus Energy.

“We need to persuade developers that concrete GBFs, which use local labour and material, are economically viable,” said Concrete Centre head of civil engineering Alan Bromage. “Although the first wind farms [for Round 3] will probably not start construction until 2013 we need make developers aware now.”

The firms believe that the huge number of wind farms that could be built for Round 3 mean that concrete GBFs could be built using mass production line techniques, bringing costs down.

The Concrete Centre estimates that building 100 GBFs on one site would make the process economical.

Developer Mainstream, which has teamed up with Siemens to develop the 4000MW Hornsea Round 3 zone, has raised concerns about the increasing cost of basesfor offshore wind turbines.

“Bases are getting more and more expensive,” said Mainstream Renewable Power offshore engineer James Lowe. “In deeper water you need more steel, expensive welds and complex designs.”

The Round 3 development zones could result in over £100bn in new work and up to 70,000 new jobs created in the UK over the next ten years (NCE 14 January).

But recent offshore wind projects such as the Thanet wind farm off the coast of Kent has resulted in less than 10% of the cost being spent in UK.

Readers' comments (1)

  • "But recent offshore wind projects such as the Thanet wind farm off the coast of Kent has resulted in less than 10% of the cost being spent in UK."

    Surprise, surprise!

    I also see another foreign owned Wind Turbine manufacturer - this time in Scotland, is likely to go under - if it's not already done so! Its called a Cost Leadership battle against overseas organisations have have already spent the start up and design, production costs and overheads, with a product which effectively is a commodity product where the cheapest provider worldwide wins the orders.

    The Wind turbine is a commodity product within an overall Wind Farm system with gross system inefficiencies which cannot be engineered out - namely the costs of remote electrical connection to the National Grid and necessary parallel base load standby power generation (planned now as OCGT) for the 75% or so of plate power capacity not available in any year due to no/low wind.

    Better WT Output Efficiencies and Production Efficiencies hardly scratch the overall Wind Farm System Efficiencies, i.e. better margins from better more expensive patent protected UK designs and using UK manufacture are not sellable as they effectively offer no Economic Value to the Customer in any overall system compared with the same system with others' Turbines!

    Total unit power generated costs(per Kwhr generated) from WT Farm Systems also continue to cost at least 250-300% of OCGT or Nuclear Plants and also, for any given Power Generation System where CO2 generating units are replaced by WT's, they will remove only 25% of the CO2 emmissions, not 100% because 75% of the WT system power generated will be from its standby OCGT Plant which has its own CO2 emmissions.

    Effectively you need approx. 200% of Power Demand as installed Power Generation Capacity with the WT/OCGT System, compared with, sat 115% if only OCGT was installed and the maximum net effect on the UK's share of global CO2 emissions from the UK, even if all replacement Power Stations were WT Farm Systems would be 25% of the estimated 2% maximum of global emissions provided by the UK, i.e. 0.55%. A few more herds of cows, pigs or sheep and a few more or so still breathing UK citizens could easily increase GHG's in the atmosphere by far more than that!

    Yet not just China and India are building massive numbers of coal fired power stations but so now are Germany and other EU countries.

    Welcome to the kamikaze school of engineering investment and the masochists' retreat for national improvement!!


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