Growth through Research, development & demonstration in Offshore Wind

Two pre-proposals submitted under MOOI-call

Monday 18 May was the first deadline for submitting pre-proposals for the MOOI call for tender. MOOI stands for Mission-driven Research, Development and Innovation and is a subsidy scheme that supports projects and/ or programs applying a more integral approach.

The integral approach should be reflected in a multi-disciplinary composition of the consortium and/ or in the themes being addressed. This scope is significantly broader than the HER (Renewable Energy Regulation) scheme that is used for most GROW projects. Within the HER, only research and development on specific technological innovations are supported.

Two pre-proposals were submitted by consortia with GROW partners in the lead, both addressing the theme of sustainability:

SIMOX: Sustainable Installation of XXL Monopiles SURFACE: SolUtions for offshoRe wind FArms with a Circular Economy An advisory committee will review the pre-proposals. With feedback given after review, consortia can prepare a definitive proposal that needs to be submitted before 6 October 2020. The overall subsidy budget for offshore wind projects is 10.1 million euro.

Sustainable Installation of XXL Monopiles (SIMOX)

About a quarter of the total wind turbine investment is spent on the turbine foundation. Monopiles are by far the most commonly used foundations for offshore wind turbines in the North Sea and it is expected to remain like this in the near future. Monopiles are straightforward to fabricate, relatively inexpensive to manufacture, use less space on deck on transport vessels, and are reliable.

Currently, the dominant method used to drive monopiles into the seabed is the so-called hydraulic impact piling (hammering). Wind turbines with electrical capacities up to 10-15 MW (or higher) will require the use of even larger monopiles (XXL monopiles with diameters up to 12 m). Conventional installation by hammering presents challenges in terms of noise reduction measures, the limited installation time during the year due to the environmental regulations, and the expected heavier design of the monopile. Innovative and integrated installation solutions are therefore required, both in terms of cost-effectiveness as well as for planning, to be able to roll-out large number of wind turbines to adhere to the Netherlands’ energy transitions plans as stipulated in the Dutch climate agreement (Klimaatakkoord, missie A).

The SIMOX project should lead to the following results:

Validated and qualified technology for installing (and possibly decommissioning) of XXL (up to 12 m diameter) monopiles offshore. The method is sustainable, with underwater noise emitted during the pile driving below levels that are likely to entail significant impact on marine animals. Cost-effective technology in terms of design requirements, transport and vessel costs/ time, and the installation process (as compared to current technology including noise mitigation, if needed). The research in a laboratory and field tests will cover the following installation methods: the Gentle Driving of Piles, the conventional vibro-hammering (axial vibration), the BLUE Piling Technology, and fluidisation (jetting), considered separately or in addition to one of the technologies above. Further, these technologies will be tested for their capability for end-of-life full decommissioning of the monopiles.

The 3-year project – if and once the subsidy is granted – is coordinated by the TU Delft together with 15 project partners, 12 of those are GROW Partners.

SolUtions for offshoRe wind FArms with a Circular Economy (SURFACE)

SURFACE focusses on the overall balance of reduction in raw/ waste materials and emissions by design and optimisation of the fabrication, installation, operation and decommissioning processes during the full life cycle of an offshore wind farm.

The overall goal of the project is to increase the circularity of offshore wind farms. It is well recognised that wind energy emits far fewer greenhouse gases compared to fossil fuel power generation. However, the vast growth expected for the industry requires us to find solutions to its increasing emissions and environmental impacts.

SURFACE will achieve this and focuses on impactful topics where pragmatic system solutions are within reach for both operating (before 2030) and also new to be built wind farms.

Offshore wind energy has moved rapidly from a young aspiring renewable energy source to a cornerstone of our energy transition. For offshore wind energy by 2050, 26 times the additional capacity needs to be installed than the current install base to meet our targets. Not only the number of wind turbines will increase, but also larger turbines will be installed with vast composite and steel structures. The largest turbine today in the market is already rated at 12 MW with a rotor diameter of 220 meters. The scale and speed at which wind farms are going to be built are unprecedented. Vast quantities of raw materials will be needed. For context, the amount of composite material used for one 12 MW wind turbine is in the order of 160 tonnes, and the amount of steel 2,845 tons (including monopile). Scaled up to a typical 750 MW wind farm this equates to over 10,000 tonnes of composite and almost 180,000 tonnes of steel respectively. Operating such a wind farm with fossil fuel-based vessels for installation and maintenance equates to a CO2 emission of more than 7,000 tonnes-eq per year.

Our energy transition ambitions can be realised; however, we also need to recognise quickly as a sector that we must become even more sustainable. Only by thinking and acting circularly, a truly sustainable and socially thought-leading industry can be realised.

The project will explore various solutions for different aspects of the offshore wind value chain: circular blades and remanufacturing, sustainable operations and decommissioning, and integration with nature.

The 4-year project – if and once the subsidy is granted – is coordinated by TNO and has currently 22 project partners, of which 7 GROW partners.

Offshore wind farm installation, source RWE
Offshore wind farm installation, source RWE