Danish clean energy giant Ørsted has signed a five-year research agreement with the University of Oxford to optimize the design of offshore wind turbine foundation structures.
Continuing to drive down costs is critical for the offshore wind industry and Ørsted is working with several universities to help improve the design and performance of offshore wind turbines. A major collaboration on wind turbine design is currently ongoing with Durham University and this new agreement with the University of Oxford will focus specifically on the foundation design.
More advanced geotechnical designs for foundations can make a major impact on cost reduction as the foundations contribute significantly to the overall wind turbine capital costs.
Ørsted and the University of Oxford have already collaborated on a range of projects over 10 years, including the recently completed PISA (Pile Soil Analysis) project, leading to significant improvements in the design of offshore wind foundations.
This agreement builds on Ørsted’s long-standing relationships with the UK academic sector to drive innovations in renewable energy, as well as supporting education and skills for the future of the offshore wind industry.
For the past seven years, Ørsted has also collaborated with researchers at the Durham Energy Institute (DEI) and is co-funding an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) grant program.
Ørsted Wind Power R&D head Christina Aabo said: “We’re excited about this agreement with the University of Oxford, a world leading institution, which will help us better understand how we can optimize the design of wind turbine foundations.
"This partnership will enable us to further mature our foundation designs to support even bigger turbines in even deeper waters, lowering costs and risk level at the same time.”
The University of Oxford Engineering Science Professor Byron Byrne said: “This exciting new phase of collaboration with Ørsted will put the next generation of offshore wind farms on more secure and cost-effective foundations through robust design methods for cyclic loading. This will be challenging but essential if the cost of offshore wind energy is to be further reduced.”
The research under the framework agreement will further develop, extend and embed new geotechnical design ideas into well-defined engineering methods for offshore wind power. The focus will be on cyclic loading, which is an important element of safe design, especially for deeper water and larger turbines.
Cyclic loading is the repeated loading that comes from the action of wind and waves on the structure, as well as the operation of the turbine. The research activities will deliver new design methods to address this cyclic loading, through doctoral and post-doctoral research projects, including on theoretical development, soil laboratory testing and medium scale field tests.