A new technology for anchoring offshore structures to the seabed could drastically reduce the cost, and increase the speed of installation for offshore wind farms; making the offshore wind a far more attractive source for renewable energy.
The new technology, designed by Universal Foundation, will be tested in the North Sea where it will be used to support 120 metre meteorology masts which will be used to provide data for the deployment of future wind farms in the area.
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What resembles an upside down, giant steel bucket will be lowered down to the seabed where it will then sink down into the seabed, and through the power of suction, become stuck fast, forming a rock solid foundation.
If successful in this preliminary installation, then the technology could be used as the base for thousands of giant offshore wind turbines which are planned to be erected in UK waters as part of the largest offshore wind project in the world, capable of supplying around 26 million homes with electricity by 2030.
Phil de Villiers, from the Carbon Trust, said that “the suction bucket foundation is a really great innovation for the industry as you can install it faster and at lower costs than conventional foundations. That is good for everyone as it brings down costs.”
De Villiers estimates that if this technology is used for the 6,000 wind turbines to be installed over the next decade, then around £5 billion could be knocked off the £90 billion total cost, because it is 20% cheaper than the traditional foundations used for offshore wind turbines