FLOTANT: Offshore wind farms - video
Wind farms are a clean, sustainable and from fossil resource independent way of generating electricity on land and offshore on our oceans. Offshore wind farms are being used more and more widely and are becoming more and more important as part of the structural change in energy production. Due to the homogeneous wind conditions, they produce energy much more efficiently than wind farms on land. The construction and operation of such offshore wind turbines is currently associated with high installation and maintenance costs. Offshore sites should be far enough from the coast and at the same time have a water depth of less than 60 metres. This allows the wind turbine to be anchored directly to the seabed. However, these locations are limited worldwide and so the potential that this technology offers cannot be fully exploited.
The Institut für Textiltechnik of RWTH Aachen University, short ITA, is participating in the FLOTANT research project. 17 international partners are developing together a solution for the installation of offshore wind farms at water depths of 100 to 600 meters. The installation and maintenance costs should be 55% to 60% lower than in current solutions.
In FLOTANT project, solutions are being developed to reduce platform movements thanks to an anchoring system made of high-performance fibres. This will allow the installation of wind turbines with generators of more than 10 MW. This solution will consist of a floating hybrid plastic-concrete platform, a dynamic and lightweight mooring system and a high-performance power export system. A holistic approach will be taken and realistic designs will be tested in relevant environments.
ITA is part of two main innovations developed within FLOTANT. The partners TFI Marine and Future Fibres, together with ITA, are leading the design of a new concept for a mooring system based on the use of high performance polymer/carbon fibre mooring cables. The development of a flexible power cable is also supported by ITA. Challenges are, besides sensor integration, especially the integration of "anti-bite" and "antifouling" properties to protect the ecological system of the oceans. ITA supports the partner AIMPLAS in this innovation by developing and implementing the required additives in the materials of the power cable and the mooring system.
The result should reduce the costs for the production of this type of energy from 107 € per MWh in 2018 to 85 to 95 € per MWh by 2030.
FLOTANT, which started in April 2019, is funded as part of the European Union's "Horizon 2020" research and innovation programme and will last 36 months. After now one year of operation, the first innovations have already been successfully implemented and the results for the anchoring systems are expected at the end of 2020.