£6.5m trial of new low cost offshore wind foundation to commence this summer

The Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) is joining forces with Statoil, Statkraft, EON, DONG Energy and Universal Foundation, in close co-operation with Aalborg University, to undertake installation trials of the Universal Foundation ‘suction bucket’ offshore wind foundation. Such innovative foundation designs alone have the potential to reduce the capital costs of offshore wind energy by up to £1bn over the next decade and reduce the cost of energy from offshore wind farms by 10%.

The £6.5m joint industry trial will be executed in Q3 this year, and will see installation of the Universal Foundation ‘suction bucket’ together with a reference bucket at a number of different locations at the sites of three planned major offshore wind farms in the North Sea.  The foundations will be installed at each site, then withdrawn and moved onto the next site for testing.

The Carbon Trust has estimated that new lower cost foundations could save developers up to a billion pounds on the basis of new foundation designs driving a 10% reduction in the cost of energy from 2,500 offshore wind turbines expected to be deployed over the next decade.

The 'suction bucket' foundation is a really great innovation for the industry as you can install it faster and at lower costs than conventional steel foundations. That is good for developers and for consumers as it means it brings down the cost of offshore wind energy. This trial is critical as it will determine the extent to which it can be applied for future offshore wind projects.

- Jan Matthiesen, Director of the Carbon Trust’s OWA

Universal Foundation has teamed up with Fred. Olsen Windcarrier to perform the trials at sites with differing soil conditions to determine the potential range of use for the new foundation which is quicker to install and requires less steel than conventional monopile foundations.

Universal Foundation’s ‘suction bucket’ was one of four novel low cost foundation designs that were shortlisted following an international competition run by the Carbon Trust in 2009 to discover world leading innovation in this area.  Two Universal Foundation ‘suction buckets’ are currently installed at Dogger Bank, a Round 3 offshore wind site, where they support two meteorological masts. In addition, an offshore met. mast foundation was installed in Denmark in 2009 and a 3MW turbine on a Universal Foundation has been fully operational in Frederikshavn since 2002.

We are very pleased to be working jointly with key stakeholders to demonstrate the potential of this unique technology, which we believe will bring substantial cost reductions to future offshore wind farms. Not only are we able to install in a wide range of soil conditions, carrying the largest turbines in deeper waters, we can accomplish installation of turbines immediately following foundation installation thus entering the production phase much faster – These are just a few of the key benefits of our value proposition.

- Torgeir Ramstad of Universal Foundation

For further information please contact the Carbon Trust press office on 020 7170 7050 or email press@carbontrust.com.

About the Carbon Trust

The Carbon Trust is an independent company with a mission to accelerate the move to a sustainable, low-carbon economy. The Carbon Trust:

  • advises businesses, governments and the public sector on opportunities in a sustainable, low-carbon world;
  • measures and certifies the environmental footprint of organisations, products and services;
  • helps develop and deploy low-carbon technologies and solutions, from energy efficiency to renewable power

Notes to Editor

  • The trial is planned to take place during August – September 2014.
  • Four test sites within the following offshore wind farms will be undertaken: Dogger Bank, Hornsea and Dudgeon
  • The £6.5m joint industry project will be one third funded by the Carbon Trust and the Danish Government with the remainder funded by Statoil (lead partner), Statkraft, EON, DONG Energy and Universal Foundation.

About Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA)

The Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) is Carbon Trust's flagship collaborative RD&D programme. Set up in 2008, the OWA is a joint industry project, involving nine offshore wind developers with 77% (36GW) of the UK's licensed capacity, which aims to reduce the cost of offshore wind by 10% by 2015. Cost reduction is achieved through innovation.

Since 2009, when the OWA ran an international competition for new foundation designs for deeper waters, the OWA has been supporting the development of novel foundations that are cheaper to fabricate and quicker to install. These will allow offshore wind farms to be built in deeper water, further from shore.

The four finalists from the competition were designs by GBF, Keystone, SPT Offshore, and Universal Foundation. To date, two of these designs have been demonstrated as part of OWA to support meteorological masts – the Keystone ‘twisted jacket’ in 2011 and the Universal Foundation in 2013.

Find out more about the OWA here