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.
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.