Glasgow demonstration proves Iberdrola concept of new floating wind turbine design

The Tension Leg Platform floating wind turbine undergoing scale-model tests
The Tension Leg Platform floating wind turbine undergoing scale-model tests

A new design of floating turbine has been successfully demonstrated in Glasgow as the collaboration behind it says it is nearing readiness for a full commercial test.

The TLP WIND project – led by Iberdrola Engineering & Construction and bringing together the expertise of the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult (OREC) and Strathclyde University – has developed a Tension Leg Platform (TLP) turbine foundation to deliver a lightweight and stable solution for floating wind.

Strathclyde University conducted scale model tests to prove the dynamic nature and seakeeping abilities of the TLP WIND® platform, utilising state-of-the-art facilities to simulate the conditions likely to be experienced off the north east coast of Scotland.

Replicating conditions of up to 16m waves and 49m/s wind gusts on a 1:36 scale model, it was able to show that the concept would work in real-world conditions.

A subsequent Levelised Cost of Energy (LCoE) analysis for the design, basing calculations on a 500MW offshore farm based in UK waters, was carried out by OREC, which estimated an LCoE of £95/MWh by 2025 – although that could be as low as £91/MWh. Forecasts suggest the TLPWIND® concept, using larger turbines, could deliver costs as low as £88/MWh by 2030 and potentially as low as £64/MWh by 2050.

Gavin Smart, OREC Investment & Financial Analyst, said: “Floating wind is likely to be an extremely important technology as we aim to drive down the overall cost of renewable energy.

“This is a novel solution that could unlock the potential in deeper water sites than we can currently access, while delivering a platform for growth.”

In estimating the levelised cost of these turbines, OREC ran projections anticipating more than 50 different scenarios, combining market rates, technological development and site variations.  Financial projections included full life cycle costs from development, through fabrication and installation, to operation and finally decommissioning.

Strathclyde Professor Sandy Day said: “This technology has been shown to work and it has been shown to reduce cost. We carried out rigorous testing of the scale models and found that even under stressful conditions, the platform is both stable and robust.”

Juan Amate Lopez from Iberdrola, said: “This collaboration has helped take the TLP WIND® design forward from being an exciting concept to an even more exciting, working prototype.”


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