RCAM Technologies has been awarded a contract by the National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium in the US to develop a novel concrete foundation for offshore wind turbines
The company plans to adapt 3D concrete printing techniques used to manufacture houses, footbridges and other small structures, along with conventional concrete construction methods, for large-scale, highly loaded structures, to produce ultra-tall turbine towers and foundations and towers for offshore windfarms.
It is leading a team that also includes include WSP USA, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Esteyco, RRD Engineering, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, NETSCo, Cathie, Structural Technologies, University of Delaware, Tufts University and University of California Irvine.
The US$1,865,000 award for the project will enable RCAM and the team to prove the feasibility and advance the design of a modular concrete foundation that does not require the use of a heavy-lift vessel to install it.
The two-year project includes conceptual design, preliminary design and feasibility assessment of a fixed-bottom, suction bucket support structure suitable for the NREL’s 15-MW reference turbine and the development of alternative installation concepts.
RCAM said it believes that its foundation can reduce the cost of support structures and help mitigate concerns about underwater noise of the type that occurs during installation of conventional steel monopile foundations.
The company said it readily scales for use with large turbines and deep water installation and manufacturing it increases local content and jobs.
“Towers and foundations for offshore wind turbines are too large to transport by road and rail due to their extremely large dimensions and existing ways of manufacturing towers are too expensive and too slow if large numbers of towers are needed,” RCAM said.
“This project will develop and assess the feasibility of innovative concrete additive manufacturing methods, and more conventional methods for building an offshore wind turbine tower and integrated foundation on-site.
“The advanced manufacturing method aims to reduce the cost of an offshore substructure and tower by up to 80% compared to conventional methods, using low-cost regionally-sourced concrete without expensive formwork, and increase production speed up to 20 times using an automated production-line approach.”