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Wind turbine support structures

As shown in Figure 5.2, support structures form a significant proportion of offshore wind development costs.  It is expected that there will be both innovation and value engineering of structure designs, and improved manufacturing processes to improve the economics and meet the demands of more challenging future sites and wind turbines.

Such developments are likely to include modifications to conventional designs, scale-up of manufacturing capacity and processes, and also more novel design concepts.  Such innovative designs may include:

  • Suction caisson monotowers
  • Use of suction caissons as the foundation of jacket or tripod structures
  • Application of screw piles
  • Floating structures
  • Braced supports to monopiles

There are two key aspects to the maturing of offshore support structures:  

  • First, acquisition of data on the behaviour of the existing structures in order to support research into the development of improved design tools and techniques and better design standards.  These will be used to extend the life of structures, to reduce costs and to develop risk-based life cycle approaches for future designs.  
  • Second, the build up of scale and speed in production in order to achieve cost reduction and the capacity necessary to supply a growing market

The development of floating structures, while long-term, will be a major advance if successful.  This is discussed further in Offshore support structures.

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