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Erosion solution for offshore wind turbines to save millions

Wind energy_3by2

Government research body Innovate UK has backed a 20 month, £1M project to develop a self-deploying solution to prevent scour damage to wind turbine bases in a bid to save millions of pounds in repair and maintenance costs.  

The current method of mitigating scour around subsea turbine bases relies on barges depositing rocks or debris to disrupt the undersea currents that move the sediment near foundations. 

Six firms led by Seabed Scour Control Sysytems (SCSS) are working on the Self-Installing Scour Protection for Offshore Wind Farms project (SISProtect).

The consortium will combine existing SCSS designs for ‘‘frond mats” with an automated deployment system for offshore wind turbines. 

The ‘‘frond mats” are overlapping layers of buoyant polypropylene plastic strips that disrupt water movement and prevent the erosion of sediment.  

By combining the frond mats with an automated deployment system, the savings to construction and repair costs could save wind farms up to £8M over their life times.  

The experimental system is set to be deployed at ScottishPower Renewables’ East Anglia ONE offshore windfarm and the results will be monitored by the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult innovation centre.  

Diagram of the scour protection system

Diagram of the scour protection system

Diagram of the scour protection system vs an unprotected structure

SCSS subsea division manager Adam Tucker said that the system would be cheaper and less environmentally damaging than existing methods.  

“By pre-installing the scour protection system onshore and deploying it at the same time as the foundation installation, this innovation will remove the need for environmentally damaging quarrying of rocks and diesel intensive installation vessels while providing a lower cost alternative to those currently available for the protection of offshore wind structures,” he said.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Plastic pollution of the oceans is already enough of problem without the addition of these 'buoyant polypropylene plastic strips' which will only add more pollution as they decay and erode. We need to devise engineering solutions that remove plastic from the sea, not add it.

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