Exo Engineering

Creating environmentally friendly ExoReefs to protect offshore wind turbines and boost biodiversity

Published 9 January 2024 Last updated 9 January 2024

Exo Engineering has developed ExoReefs, which provide scour protection for cable routes and turbine foundations for offshore infrastructure, with up to 90% recycled materials to mitigate carbon use and form a haven for wildlife.


About Exo Engineering

Norwich-based Exo Engineering has developed ExoReefs, structures made from recycled materials designed to shield offshore wind infrastructure like cable routes and turbine foundations from scour, (seabed erosion caused by waves and currents). These ExoReefs not only protect offshore structures but also foster a variety of marine life.

All large-scale developments (like offshore wind and associated cables) are required to assess their impact on the environment with an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). Impacts on the seabed caused by a development needs to be mitigated or compensated as part of the development permit. Exo Engineering’s solutions enable offshore wind developers to include seabed biodiversity measures into the scour protection with the ‘artificial reef’ structures. The enabling technology ensures that the natural environment is enhanced and a haven for wildlife is created, at the foundation of the turbine.

Having completed various pilots and design revisions, Exo Engineering aims to implement ExoReefs as part of scour protection on a large scale in multiple offshore wind farm developments and establish the company as a credible choice for developers.

Exo Engineering collaborates with universities, the Environment Agency, and wind farm contractors to create its artificial reef concepts. The ExoReefs can help reduce the negative effects of seabed developments such as erosion and loss of biodiversity and can be considered as part of Environmental Impact Assessments.

The technology

Its custom-designed low-carbon concrete structures are tailored to meet the specific needs of clients and projects. They are available in a variety of shapes and sizes including tiles, pipes, spheres, articulated mattresses and hexagonal designs.

Scour can reduce the strength and stiffness of wind turbine foundations compromising stability. It can also cause damage to cables, which can lead to failure in the expensive cable network. Exo Engineering’s ExoReefs are applied around turbine foundations and along cable routes, protecting the structures from scour without compromising their structural integrity.

These solutions enhance biodiversity compared to traditional methods such as rock dumping, which add few benefits to the wider ecosystem.

Concrete is a common choice for scour protection as it is strong and can be cast into intricate shapes, tailored to fit the needs of the unique environment they will be deployed in.

However, Exo Engineering’s ExoReefs are made using their eco-friendly Geoblock technology. This involves turning recycled materials, such as dredged sediment and leftovers from quarrying and construction, into viable, habitat-enhancing products. Each eco-reef unit can contain as much as 90% recycled materials, which reduces its lifetime carbon emissions by 17% compared to regular concrete. This approach is crucial for creating a circular economy, minimising waste and carbon emissions.

Artist impression of ExoReefs used as part of turbine scour protection to enhance biodiversity


Exo Engineering saw an opportunity to benefit the underwater environment with the design of its scour protection units. By including textured surfaces and imprints in its concrete ExoReefs, it provides a habitat for animals, plants, and algae to thrive. Features like holes and crevices offer shelter for mobile marine life, all with the goal of enhancing marine biodiversity at offshore windfarms.

Support received by Launch Academy East of England

Exo Engineering recognised the value in taking part in Launch Academy East of England after prior involvement in other programmes such as Innovate UK’s GBIP Boston program and the Offshore Wind Growth Partnership’s ‘The Living Windfarms’ project.

Through Launch Academy East of England, Exo Engineering will develop a thorough understanding of market standards, specialised requirements, and effectively promote its products to developers while defining a route to market.

William Coulet, Managing Director at Exo Engineering, said: “The Launch Academy East of England programme will inform us of sector specific requirements within the offshore renewables industry. This will allow us to expand our product and services on a national and international level. Once we better understand developer requirements through Launch Academy East of England, we can improve our offering of eco-marine engineering solutions that involve low carbon and recycled materials, and unparalleled nature inclusive designs.

“Products that can be conveniently deployed on a large scale using conventional methods are a turnkey solution for rapid and widespread adoption in the offshore wind industry. With this solution, we are confident that Launch Academy East of England will be able to highlight clear routes to market putting us directly in contact with relevant users.”

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Imogen Stevenson

Innovation Manager - East of England

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