Over the past 40 years, grout has been the go-to method for securing offshore foundations; it’s a proven technique within offshore oil and gas. However, the grout can crumble and crack if there is any movement during installation, compromising the structural integrity of a wind turbine. The fragility of grout, coupled with the large amounts of time taken, and costs involved with its installation, means that new and innovative solutions are required.
One company that is looking to break away from the ‘way-it’s-always-been-done’ approach is Glasgow-based Cedeco. Cedeco is conducting a feasibility study for an improved installation technique for offshore wind turbines. The company is proposing to replace grout with a mechanical alternative as a means of securing the jacket foundation of an offshore turbine to the piles installed into the seabed. Cedeco’s technology is based on a series of staves and wedges that expand to exert a gripping force. If successful, this will represent a step-change in foundation installation techniques within the offshore wind sector.
Cedeco’s solution will increase the speed of installation as the ‘instant lock’ means the jacket doesn’t have to be ‘held’ in place as it would if grout was being used. Additionally, this method would lower the cost of installing offshore wind turbine foundations due to the speed of installation as well as lowered design and implementation costs.
The Cedeco solution is entirely grout-free, with shortened installation times and improved Health & Safety as fewer vessels and technicians are required, reducing carbon emissions.
In the summer of 2018, Cedeco’s proposed grout-free approach won an innovation challenge, set by ORE Catapult, seeking ways to to reduce the cost of the grouting process.
Together with ScottishPower Renewables, Atkins and ORE Catapult, Cedeco looks to develop, model and test its technology. It aims to achieve a level of pre-certification from industry Standards bodies, such as DNV GL, before progressing to prototype development and testing. Cedeco will also conduct market research within the wider offshore wind community, testing its value proposition with end-users to ensure it fully meets their requirements.
Cedeco is a ‘Powered By ORE Catapult’ company. The Powered By mark is only available to organisations who have successfully engaged with the High Growth Assessment Process (HiGAP) and are now seeking to collaborate with the Catapult to develop their product or service.
Following the work with ORE Catapult, Cedeco will receive funding from the Offshore Wind Growth Partnership (OWGP) to determine the material they would use to develop their technology. This project is a feasibility study conducted by the National Composite Centre (NCC) to examine the suitability of using composite materials to form the gripper components. The project aims to show that with composites being lighter, cheaper, easier to manufacture and non-corrosive, Cedeco will develop a more competitive product that could be manufactured in the UK and exported.