Hydraulic engineering and offshore renewable energy specialist HR Wallingford announced that it is extensively testing the physical model for a potentially revolutionary new offshore wind foundation named Gravity Tripod.

16May - Gravity

Image: The Gravity Tripod designed by Offshore Wind Logistics and Construction (OWLC). Photo: Courtesy of HR Wallingford.

HR Wallingford said that to test and certify the new offshore wind foundation concept, it is working with Offshore Design Engineering (ODE), DNV-GL, Cambridge University and the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult

The offshore wind foundation concept was designed by Offshore Wind Logistics and Construction (OWLC), and funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

The company said that until March 2019, the UK had approximately 2,000 offshore wind turbines with more than 7.8GW of power generation capacity and the National Grid ‘Future Energy Scenarios’ predicted a rise of approximately 30GW by 2030.

With increase in construction of offshore wind, traditional construction methods of hammering monopiles into the seabed have turned expensive, moving into deeper water.

In combination with an increasingly competitive energy market, new and innovative foundation solutions would help keeping costs down the company’s Gravity Tripod comes in.

HR Wallingford said that a team of renewables experts are taking the Gravity Tripod foundation though a series of stages, including certification from DNV, demonstration of the design with a prototype structure.

Design work and optimization are expected to be undertaken by ODE, with testing of the physical components conducted by ORE Catapult, while Cambridge University would conduct geotechnical sediment modelling, looking at the interaction between the structure and sea bed.

HR Wallingford is expected to carry out extensive physical model testing to investigate the loads applied to the structure during installation, caused by exposure to large waves, and to determine the amount of erosion that may develop around the base of the structure if left unprotected.

HR Wallingford research business development manager David Todd said: “We are looking forward to working with OWLC on this exciting new foundation concept. The foundation will be subjected to rigorous physical testing in the Fast Flow Facility, a unique wave-current-sediment flume designed for the offshore wind market, making it the ideal location for installation, survival and scour testing of offshore wind foundations.”