Backed by £1m grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the project will explore ways to use screw piles foundations for offshore installations.

The existing main foundation solutions include driven piles, large monopiles or concrete gravity-based structures (GBS), which have raised concerns over plant availability and impact on marine mammals.

The screw piles are expected to overcome the drawbacks and are scalable for future development from current onshore systems.

University of Dundee civil engineering senior lecturer Dr Mike Brown said: "Screw piles are potentially very attractive as a lower cost and more environmentally friendly option.

"If we are to develop them for offshore use they will likely be larger than those used onshore, and face different pressures, so our work will look at whether they can meet the performance and efficiency issues."

The new foundations will be designed to withstand current water depths as well as help evaluate the piles.

"By harnessing the installation and performance benefits of screw pile/anchor technology, the results of the project will hopefully contribute to an overall cost reduction in electricity generated by renewable means and increase the public’s confidence in the future viability of this energy source," Brown added.

By 2020, the UK is expected to install over 5,000 offshore wind turbines to meet its renewable energy targets.