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Turbine prototype sites sought

Offshore wind turbine designer Gravitas was this week pitching for sites where it can build a prototype for its gravity base foundation design after securing government development funding.

Gravitas Offshore has been awarded £556,000 by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) to develop a full scale prototype of its concrete gravity base foundation.

The Gravitas consortium of consultant Arup and contractors Hochtief and Costain had been pitching for development funding since it formed in 2010 as well as looking for suitable sites.

“We’re lobbying all developers to make land available [for our prototype],” said Arup director Gordon Jackson. Along with developers, Gravitas Offshore is also looking at two demonstration sites off the coast of Aberdeen in Scotland and Blyth in north east England for testing the design.

20m water depth

Jackson’s main requirement is a water depth of at least 20m.

He hopes to agree a location by the end of the year to ensure the new base can be deployed by 2014 - a condition of Decc’s grant.

Gravitas also has to find more industry stakeholders like wind turbine manufacturers as well as a firm to build the prototype. Jackson said that prototype was likely to be built in the UK, “assuming” UK firms show interest.

He said that successful deployment of the foundation design was essential if the firm was to persuade developers that the technology is a viable alternative to steel foundations.

“Developers need something tangible and are waiting to see a demonstrator,” said Jackson. “[If successful] I think it will help transform attitudes and allow gravity base suppliers to be put on the bid list.”

If the prototype is successful, it is expected that it will take another two years for Gravitas to produce a commercially available foundation base.

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