Intelligent Moorings

Background

The development of floating offshore wind technology is vital in the fight against climate change and in helping the UK meet its net-zero targets by 2050. As well as solving environmental challenges, mass-deployment of floating offshore wind farms also presents huge economic benefits to the UK, with a recent ORE Catapult report highlighting the potential of 17,000 jobs and a staggering £33.6bn created in the industry.

However, before the industry can begin this rapid deployment, floating offshore wind (FOW) mooring systems are a key challenge area that the industry needs to address to improve the cost competitiveness of FOW, with some estimates suggesting that this subsystem accounts for in excess of 10% of FOW capital expenditure (CAPEX).

Present FOW mooring systems are based on conservative designs from the oil and gas industry, often utilising heavy and expensive materials that can also be costly to install.

The Solution

Intelligent Moorings have developed a mooring damper for the FOW market, called the Intelligent Mooring System (IMS). Intelligent Moorings is working with ORE Catapult to de-risk an innovative technology that could provide a step-change improvement in FOW mooring systems, reducing costs and over-engineering risks. The device could significantly reduce the tensile loads that mooring systems used on FOW turbines experience, which would, in turn, enable the usage of lower grade, lighter and lower cost mooring materials. Furthermore, there could be knock-on cost reduction benefits in neighbouring subsystems, e.g. anchoring and platforms, as well as in the costs associated with installation and O&M.

FOW is key to unlocking the lion’s share of the offshore wind energy resource found in deeper waters, but currently the technology is expensive compared with other  forms of energy generation, including fixed-bottom offshore wind.

ORE Catapult’s Role

ORE Catapult’s Marine Energy Engineering Centre of Excellence (MEECE) project team will install the IMS on a MEECE test buoy in the Milford Haven Waterway for field testing. The IMS will be tested at an intermediate scale on the mooring system of the MEECE buoy to prove its marine durability and performance in a real environment for the first time and advance the technology to TRL 7. During these trials, data will be captured  on the performance of the system in a real-world  environment.

ORE Catapult will assess the IMS’ potential to reduce the levelised cost of energy (LCoE) of FOW through a techno-economic assessment, pulling from its extensive database of costs and by liaising with FOW developers, e.g. through ORE Catapult’s Floating Offshore Wind Centre of Excellence.

Bombora Floating mWave

Bombora

An innovative solution to meet the demands of the rapidly expanding offshore energy industry

The Opportunity

UK waters have some of the best marine resources in the world and we are well placed to exploit them. Whilst our ability to extract energy from tides is more advanced than from waves, both industries are still at the early stages of technology development, but have the potential to supply about 20% of the UK’s electricity which would offset approximately 30 million tonnes of CO2 emissions each year.

The UK is blessed with a significant wave energy resource. However, few technologies to date have demonstrated that this potential can be harnessed affordably and reliably, with the industry remaining at a juncture.

The Solution

Bombora is a leading wave energy technology developer and will soon deploy its first 1.5MW device, named mWaveTM, off the coast of Pembrokeshire. The current design focuses on nearshore, shallow water locations; however, the lion’s share of the global wave energy resource is located in deeper offshore sites.

As a result, Bombora and ORE Catapult are working together as part of the Marine Energy Engineering Centre of Excellence (MEECE) to identify a techno-economic solution that is viable for such sites.

Bombora Floating mWave Hybrid Wave Park
Bombora Floating mWave Hybrid Wave Park

This feasibility study is investigating the optimum approach to mounting mWaveTM on a floating platform. Floating mWaveTM is being modelled using the OrcaFlex software to identify platform configurations that will result in sufficient energy production and can be built cost-effectively. The project will also study if there are synergistic benefits in siting the Floating mWaveTM technology alongside floating wind turbines, such as shared balance of plant costs. In addition, the study will progress an understanding of shared wind and wave foundation design requirements.

Bombora Floating mWave
Bombora Floating mWave

Wave energy is a largely untapped source of power that could be harnessed to decarbonise the UK and provide a complimentary and considerable source of renewable energy. With a global market worth £76 billion across 50 countries, it’s estimated that wave and tidal energy could contribute about £4 billion to UK GDP by 2050, offering strong export opportunities and the potential to increase the number of skilled jobs from the current 1,700 to around 20,000 in the next decade.

ORE Catapult’s Role

The MEECE project team is leading on the numerical modelling work to build the floating platform and determine energy generation, which will feed into economic analysis performed by ORE Catapult’s Analysis and Insights team to assess the economic viability of Floating mWaveTM.

ORE Catapult has access to a wealth of data from the offshore renewable energy sector that it can pull from to predict with a high level of confidence the levelised cost of energy (LCoE) from this new technology, as well as identify areas for improvement.