A new Aberdeen-led project has received a share of £800,000 to explore more efficient ways of installing offshore windfarms.
The project will examine new and more cost-effective methods of development as part of the Scottish energy industry’s journey to Net Zero.
As a collaboration between the National Decommissioning Centre (NDC) – itself a partnership between the University of Aberdeen and Net Zero Technology Centre – and Ellon-based Aubin Group, the project will utilise on Aubin’s patented pumpable variable buoyancy technology (Deepbuoy).
This firm says this offers a “more precise and controlled” lifting solution to commonly used air bags, making lifting operations easier and safer for cranes, divers and ROVs.
Detailed modelling simulations will be performed by the NDC, utilising its state-of-the-art, real-time, real-physics Marine Simulator, to build models of Aubin’s Deepbuoy technology to assess its applicability, benefits in terms of costs and reduced carbon footprint for installation of wind farms infrastructure.
Dr Marcin Kapitaniak, an Independent Research Fellow at the NDC, said the project will allow the technology to progress, potentially leading to the reduction in costs of installation of floating wind farms.
“The NDC’s simulator allows the research team to conduct virtual field trials, to demonstrate the capabilities of liquid buoyancy and the underwater lifting system in shallow, median and deep-water wind farm installations,” he added.
“Through real-time simulation studies we will be able to identify challenges relating to the installation of floating wind farm anchors and mooring systems. The findings from our studies should lead to the development of novel techniques for deployment of wind farm anchors and mooring systems.”
The research team will also compare the methods developed through the project with conventional installation methods and emerging competitive new lifting methods, with the aim of demonstrating a significant reduction in costs and reliance on heavy lift vessels for the installation of wind farms.
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The Aberdeen project is one of eight across the UK to receive support from the Supergen Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Hub through its Flexible Funding Scheme, designed to support ambitious research in offshore renewable energy.
The Hub’s Flexible Funding was established to enable UK researchers to respond to a number of key research challenges in ORE. It also aims to support project areas that complement existing research, fill gaps or add cross-cutting activities to explore the transfer of research findings between sectors within ORE.
Furthermore, the Aberdeen project will benefit from additional funding from the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult’s Floating Offshore Wind Centre of Excellence (FoW CoE).
Dr Callum Scullion, product development manager at Aubin Group said: “It is exciting to work with the National Decommissioning Centre on a project that can enable the scaling of floating windfarm projects in an environmental and cost-effective manner.
“Utilising state-of-the art technology to run virtual trials can inform and de-risk the design and installation of future mooring and anchor systems, which enables a reduction in kWh costs of floating wind and could reduce the UK economy’s reliance on fossil fuels further.
“The information we will gather in these virtual trials can also help towards reducing the environmental impact of these enormous infrastructure projects on the marine environment, reduce carbon footprint, optimise harbour and vessel options, and help plan for full lifecycle deployment, including field maintenance and future decommissioning.”