Consortium Addresses Mooring Components for Floating Wind Turbines


An international consortium led by Principle Power, a global energy technology and services company, and comprising the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Aker Solutions, the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) and Technology From Ideas (TfI), has been awarded a contract by the U.S. government’s National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium (NOWRDC) for a project entitled Demonstration of Shallow-Water Mooring Components for Floating Offshore Wind Turbines (ShallowFloat).

ShallowFloat aims to demonstrate the feasibility and benefits of soft mooring designs for floating offshore wind turbines by incorporating a load reducing polymer spring in the mooring lines. The spring technology developed by TfI has the potential to reduce peak loads by more than 50%, enabling reduction in both the size and required holding capacity of anchors. As such, these polymer springs are expected to reduce installation vessel requirements, enabling drastic reductions in cost for FOWT station-keeping systems in shallow waters. 

Principle Power has a proven track record in the design, procurement and installation of conventional and station-keeping systems for its WindFloat technology. The company has designed mooring systems for water depths as low as 48m with simple components that are inexpensive to install. In shallower water, however, mooring requirements tend to increase exponentially. Incorporating TfI’s polymer spring into this mature mooring system design framework has high potential to simplify deployment in challenging shallow water sites. 

The objective of this NOWRDC-funded study is to design a bankable, low-cost, shallow-water mooring solution that has an approval-in-principle (AIP) from ABS and to 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. 

TfI is an Irish company that focuses on solutions for the emerging floating wind sector. Their polymer spring mooring technology allows customers to change the mooring system response, optimizing the behaviour of the system in ways not possible with conventional steel or fibre technology. This drives down loads and fatigue, enables deployments in challenging environments – all while delivering cost reduction. The technology is in the process of certification by class societies, making it one of the most advanced technologies in the industry.

“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,” says Cian Conroy, senior business development manager at Principle Power. “We are excited to be working with TfI. As we look to the growth of the floating offshore wind sector, deployment in shallow waters will play a major role in meeting targets and, for this, innovation in the mooring space will be key.”

Over the next 18 months, TfI will be demonstrating their technology in Scotland, France and the U.S.

Photo: NOWRDC’s landing page

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