A consortium led by Principle Power has been awarded a contract by the National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium (NOWRDC) in the US for a project entitled ‘Demonstration of Shallow-Water Mooring Components for Floating Offshore Wind Turbines.’
The other partners in the ShallowFloat project include the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Aker Solutions, classification society ABS, and Technology from Ideas (TfI) in Ireland.
ShallowFloat aims to demonstrate the feasibility and benefits of soft mooring designs for floating turbines by incorporating an innovative load reducing polymer spring into mooring lines.
The spring technology, developed by TfI, has the potential to reduce peak loads by more than 50%, enabling a reduction in the size and required holding capacity of anchors. The polymer springs could therefore reduce installation vessel requirements, enabling a reduction in the levelized cost of energy from floating wind in shallow waters.
Principle Power has designed mooring systems for water depths of as little as 48 m with simple components that are inexpensive to install. In shallower water, however, mooring requirements tend to increase exponentially. “Incorporating TfI’s polymer spring into Principle Power’s mooring system design has high potential to simplify deployment in challenging shallow water sites,” said the company.
The objective of this NOWRDC-funded study is to design a bankable, low-cost, shallow-water mooring solution that has approval-in-principle (AIP) from the ABS and provide developers with reliable technical and economic data about the ability of floating foundations to potentially offer a more competitive, lower risk solution compared to bottom-fixed jacket structures in certain shallow water sites.
In a statement, Principle Power said TfI’s polymer spring mooring technology “allows customers to change mooring system response, optimising the behaviour of the system in ways not possible with conventional steel or fibre technology.” This drives down the loads on moorings and reduces fatigue and could enable deployment of floating wind in challenging environments whilst delivering cost reduction. The technology is in the process of certification by class societies.
Principle Power senior business development manager Cian Conroy said, “As we see countries like Ireland target increasing volumes of offshore wind, there is a real opportunity to capture first mover advantages for both the country and the supply chain. Floating wind deployment in shallow water will play a major role in meeting targets.”
TfI chief executive CEO Noel Halloran said, “We will be challenging the ‘steel thinkers’ in this industry to reimagine their mooring designs and take advantage of the opportunities we offer for load reduction.”
Over the next 18 months, TfI will be demonstrating their technology in Scotland, France and the US.