Costain has teamed up with Hochtief and Arup in a new alliance that will seek to design and build offshore wind farms.
Costain believes it can offer a cost effective, deliverable way of rolling out the quantity of wind farm foundations needed by setting up a dedicated manufacturing facility to mass produce them.
It hopes the move will give it a big slice of a market expected to be worth £200bn by 2020.
“If everybody develops the sites they say they’re going to - and that depends on how far they take Round 3, what happens to other forms of energy and our use of energy - the offshore market could be worth £200bn by 2020. The foundation element of that is £50bn,” said Costain renewables director Colin Duff.
Installations in a large proportion of the Round 3 development zones will require large gravity base foundations sitting on the seabed and into which the wind turbines can be attached.
A gravity base foundation for the wind farms proposed in the Round 3 development phase would be a flask-shaped concrete structure 30m-40m in diameter, 60m-70m tall and weighing around 6,000t. Winning contracts will come down to having an affordable, deliverable solution, said Duff.
“The most efficient way of achieving this is by setting up a manufacturing facility to mass produce the gravity base foundations,” he said.
To meet the aspirations of the government in terms of their targets for renewable energy production - of which offshore wind is a major part - the facility will have to be capable of producing a unit every two to three days, he added.
The consortium is currently assessing suitable sites for port facilities to produce the foundations. They would be constructed by a slipforming process operating round the clock.
Bidding concluded this year between various developers and energy providers and the Crown Estates (which owns the rights to the seabed around the UK) for ‘Round 3’ of the licences that will allow companies access to the seabed to install the wind turbines.